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Commodity Intelligence Report
March 12, 2014

Europe: Mild Winter Advances Crop Stage;
Excessive Rain in West Creates Field Challenges


Mild over-winter conditions have kept crops in the 28-member European Union (EU) in good condition since planting last autumn. Almost all winter long, temperatures have remained much above-average. A continuous lack of snowcover has created lingering fears of potential winterkill damage; however, temperatures have remained anomalously warm, minimalizing any winterkill issues to date. In addition, during February and March, temperatures above 5° Celsius have caused crops to break dormancy several weeks to a month early in much of Europe. While the early green-up has accelerated crop development and plant biomass, it also increases the risk of spring freeze damage on plants that typically are not so far advanced.


Hungary: Average Weekly Temperatures: Fall-Winter 2013-2014; Temperatures averaged above 5°C by mid-February, so winter dormancy is expected to have been broken by the end of the month (after two weeks of temperatures at this level).  This is nearly a month early.  Notice that the “normal” or mean temperature (in gray) does not reach the five-degree growth stage until mid-March.


Excessive rainfall in western Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and France, has likely caused problems where water has pooled in low-lying areas, and in fields with poor drainage. In addition, fertilizer applications and other fieldwork activities has likely been delayed because of the wetness. Regardless of these somewhat challenging conditions, the French farm office FranceAgriMer reported on March 7th that 74 percent of the soft wheat crop was in good or excellent condition, up from 67 percent at the same time last year.

According to the Short Term Outlook published by the European Commission, sowings for wheat in the EU is estimated to increase between two and three percent, while estimates for 2014/15 production is less than one percent at 144.5 million tons, due to a return to normal yields. Area planted in rapeseed, also a primarily fall-planted crop in the EU, is estimated to be up by less than one percent in area and down by less than one percent in production at 20.7 million tons. This reduction is also due to a return to normal yields.


Europe, practically devoid of snowcover during January 2014. Without insulating snowcover autumn-sown crops are more vulnerable to low temperatures.

Precipitation and Soil Moisture:

 February Percent Normal Cumulative Precipitation  March Soil Moisture


The USDA will issue its initial 2014/15 global crop production estimates on May 9, 2014. Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.

For more information contact Bryan Purcell | | (202) 690-0138
USDA-FAS, Office of Global Analysis

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