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European Wheat Crop Health Deteriorates Amid Scant Rainfall

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High temperatures and scant rainfall are hitting much of Europe, increasing the risk of damage to the continent’s wheat crops. This comes as global supplies of the grain continue to be squeezed by the war in Ukraine. 

In France, the EU’s largest wheat producer, growing conditions in areas planted to wheat have deteriorated rapidly, as shown by the Gro Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture application, which can be weighted to highlight conditions for specific crops and regions. 

Accumulated precipitation so far this year is 50% below the 10-year average in France’s wheat growing regions, as seen in this Gro Navigator display. As a result, since mid-May Gro’s Vegetative Health Index weighted for France’s wheat has fallen sharply and is currently in line with the depressed levels seen in 2022, when successive heat waves knocked French wheat production back by 5% year over year. 

In addition, soil moisture readings for France’s wheat have declined to the low levels seen at this time last year. And a steady rise in the Gro Drought Index over the past two weeks has pushed it to the third-highest drought reading in the past two decades. 

France’s problems with dry growing conditions come as Spain’s croplands suffer under “extreme” drought conditions — the worst in at least 20 years — according to the Gro Drought Index, as Gro wrote about here.  

French wheat, which is harvested in July and August, is currently in the growing months that have the greatest impact on final yields. 

As a major wheat exporter, France’s crop prospects impact many countries, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, that are increasingly dependent on supplies from Western Europe as wheat exports from the Black Sea region remain unreliable amid the Russia-Ukraine war. 

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