Harvest report

Reduced yields feared on regional level

AGRAVIS expert Alfred Reisewitz answers key questions on harvest expectations for 2019 in an interview.

AGRAVIS expert Alfred Reisewitz
AGRAVIS expert Alfred Reisewitz

What differences are you expecting for the 2019 harvest?

In Germany and Scandinavia, we're experiencing an increase in winter grains acreage again compared to the previous year. Wheat, rye and winter barley acreages in particular have increased, by up to 15 or 20 per cent in some places. Even if it hasn’t been possible to make up for 2018’s water shortages in Germany and Poland completely, precipitation and cool temperatures in May and the first half of June have gone some way to recovering water reserves. This is also reflected in the harvest forecast for Europe in early June.

The extreme heat over recent days and the current weather reports for the coming days has led to renewed fears of reduced yields on light soils on a regional level in North and Eastern Germany, although they probably won’t be as dire as the yields in summer 2018. Overall, we are not expecting a fundamental quantity risk for the year but we aren't anticipating the yields which were estimated on a regional level just four weeks ago either. If temperatures continue at their current level, there is a growing risk that the proportion of shrivelled grain may increase. Overall, the quality risk remains unchanged until harvest begins, as always. The much-debated protein problem posed by the new Fertiliser Ordinance in Germany and the consequences of the dry summer of 2018 will probably show their initial effects in deep-soil locations this year.

How do you see the situation in neighbouring countries?

A good harvest is also growing in neighbouring European countries. The EU’s largest grain producer, France, did not need to contend with drought problems in 2018 or 2019, unlike Germany and the Baltic region. Initial threshing results for winter barley in South-West France displays excellent quality, low protein for winter brewing barley and excellent grading and hectolitre weights. These factors mean high yields can be expected.

France is heading for its second largest harvest in its history for wheat. Denmark and Sweden have recently experienced optimal conditions with excellent precipitation to make up for the water deficits caused by last year’s one-hundred-year drought. As in the Baltic states, the quantities from the forthcoming harvest will reach double figures in these countries. Our main competitors on the international market, the states in the Black Sea region, also expect growth in 2019, which may even reach new record levels for wheat and maize in the case of Ukraine.

What does this mean for grain supply in 2019/2020?

The supply situation for the forthcoming harvest in Germany, the EU and also worldwide is good to excellent. In the case of wheat, analysts are expecting record stocks worldwide, which may reach over 290 million tonnes and may be sufficient for around four to five months based on the current consumption figures. There is also a good supply situation for barley and maize, despite the reduction in areas sown in the US. The record maize harvest in South America will more than compensate for the decline in harvests expected in the US.