RMI Analytics Crop Tour Report – 2017 France
From June 6 to 8 RMI Analytics conducted a tour of trial and commercial barley fields in Burgundy, close to Sens and the Champagne-Ardenne area between Troyes and Reims.
Over the season leading up to the tour, crops in France have seen less rainfall than typical with soils starting the year with lower than average moisture following a very low rainfall winter. Upon arrival in Paris the tour witnessed colder than typical conditions (low double digits in Celsius, 12-16C) with heavy rain and winds accompanying the cold, quite different from the dry and hot conditions seen in previous weeks.
On the first night of the tour French cooperative Cerevia presented to the group their expectations for the 2017 season with April frosts as well as drought blamed for a disappointing outlook on yields.
The coop said 2017 was going to be a ‘non-exceptional year‘ with only average to maybe a little above the average expected in quality and yield. About 240,000MT of winter malting barley and 45,000MT of spring malting barley would be harvested by Cerevia, the company said, with these figures heavily weather dependent e.g. good rains during coming hot weather, no rain at harvest. These figures are reduced on previous years not just because of lower yields but as coop Seineyonne will be departing the Cerevia marketing group. Seineyonne will harvest about 170,000MT of 6-row and 2-row winter malting barley and 30,000MT of 2-row spring malting barley (Planet and Sebastian) marketing their grain into the Creil and Mosel markets. Those harvest figures for Seineyonne are also dependent on good weather for the rest of the season.
Regarding spring barley, Cerevia said it was currently at 70% of its potential and they hoped more rain and warm, but not too hot, conditions would improve its conditions as it heads towards harvest in July.
The next day the first stop on the tour was a barley breeding station from Breun north of Sens, where tour participants saw a number of new and established malting barley varieties in trials of various types.
Three main new varieties were displayed Fatima, Elinor, Leandra which are all in various stages of assessment and approval as malting varieties. Fatima is a variety broadly similar to Planet, and has been out yielding it in Argentina, with good drought resistance, good grading, high extract and is currently in CBMO trials.
Elinor is a malting variety which was registered in France last year and is currently in the first round of its CBMO trial to receive malting accreditation. Close to established varieties Irina/Sebastian, Elinor is a winter sown, spring variety and yields up to 5-6% more than similar winter sown varieties. Leandra too is a winter sown spring barley variety with trials ongoing in France and Germany.
On the tour’s next stop at Cerevia’s trial plots in Burgundy the group heard about how the winter months of December, January and February had been too cold. In the field the tour was told on average temps had been 1C below the average and 2C lower than the last four years with April seeing several days of extremely cold nights and frost during grain filling which had cost some yield mostly in the east of the area. As well as this lower rainfall had affected crops and a slug problem which plant were establishing had also seen further damage.Frost damage was observed in the ears of barley and with some plants showing secondary tillers which will lead to a more heterogeneous harvest. Cerevia experts told the tour they expected a reduction in yield of 15% for winter barley in this region. Market participants on the tour expressed the view that while these losses in yield for winter barley are decidedly negative for Burgundy they won’t have a major impact on the national picture for French winter barley production.
From here the tour crossed the border in the Champagne-Ardenne and conducted a series of farm visits with Vivescia near the city of Troyes. During this visit a crop of Planet and an unknown variety (also likely to be Planet) were inspected with good root structures, adequate soil moisture and plump kernels observed.
On the final day of the RMI Analytics French Crop Tour 2017 the tour inspected trial sites from Syngenta near Chalons-en-Champagne where hybrid barley varieties were being trialed. The project is the culmination of 25 years of research by Syngenta into developing new much higher yielding hybrid malting barley varieties, similar to the varieties which already exist in corn and wheat.
The main hybrid variety in trial was Hook, a 6-row winter barley which is registered by the CTPS as having brewing potential and had returned 94.5% in grading with protein at 9.7% and higher than average yields. For more details of the Hyvido project contact Syngenta.
Finally the tour visited the farm of Mr Pascal Prot, former Chairman of Vivescia, just south of Chalons-en-Champagne where participants inspected his mixed vegetable and cereals operation. Mr Prot farms 100ha rapeseed, 90ha barley, 50ha alfalfa, 200ha winter wheat, with the bulk of his farming operation being potatoes (6000MT production per year).
Two fields of spring barley were inspected on the farm, a crop of Explorer and a crop of Planet, with both suffering from water stress as only 50mm of rain had come to the farm since March and irrigation in cereals is prohibited. The crop of Explorer was thin on the ground and quite dry with expectations it would yield about 5MT/Ha in 2017 (normally 7-8MT/Ha).
For the crop of Planet plants looked in much better conditions with expectations they would yield about 6.5MT/Ha (normally 8.3MT/Ha or more) with harvest likely to start on or about July 15, ten days early.
This is the first RMI Analytics crop tour of 2017 and we would like to offer our sincere thanks to sponsors Syngenta, Breun, Cerevia, Vivescia, Evergrain and Kerallianz for their much valued support.
Thanks as well go to local farmers who opened their doors and shared their passion for the malting barley. Also it’s important to remember to thank the participants who make this unique malting barley industry networking opportunity such a success and we thank them for their participation and keen interest in our French Crop Tour.
Manager of Market Insights and Reporting
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