Feed mills are getting a taste for triticale.

FranceAgriMer reports that use of the rye-wheat hybrid in French animal rations is soaring as mills scramble for replacements for the likes of maize, following a drought-hit domestic (and overall European Union) harvest this year.

The bureau estimates triticale accounting for 6.9% of the mix in French feed this season, up from 4.3% last season and the highest proportion since 2015-16.

And this despite a 2022 domestic triticale harvest which, at 1.64m tonnes, fell by 133,000 tonnes year on year.

‘Sustained pace of exports’

Feed producers in any other European countries too are getting a taste for the grain, which is also used as a feedstock for biogas plants.

French triticale exports for the first four months of 2022-23 tripled to top 60,000 tonnes.

It is in fact more than twice as much as the country has achieved over the same period in any previous year this century.

FranceAgriMer, lifting its forecast for full-season shipments by 20,000 tonnes to 140,000 tonnes, highlighted a “sustained pace of exports to Spain”, a big feed grain importer, “over the first four months of the campaign”, with Italian and Belgian-Dutch orders notably higher too.

Sowings rise

The strong demand has not gone unnoticed by French farmers, who have lifted triticale sowings for the 2023 harvest to 340,000 hectares, the biggest area in seven years, the country’s farm ministry revealed this week.

That should secure the country’s place as the world’s third-ranked triticale grower, ahead of Belarus, which in the five years to last season produced an average of 1.45m tonnes of the grain, according to the International Grains Council.

That said, sowings remain well behind, for instance, levels above 380,000 hectares recorded in the 2013 and 2014 autumn planting periods.

French production will remain well behind that of Poland, the world’s top grower, which produces an average of 5.02m tonnes, besides that of second-ranked China, on 2.05m tonnes.