May 26 (Bloomberg) -- France’s barley harvest started yesterday in the southwest of the country, and indications are for a “very bad” crop, with drought reducing yields by half in the worst cases, Paris-based farm adviser Agritel said.
“It’s clear that it’s really very bad, what’s been cut so far,” Nicolas Pinchon, an analyst at Agritel, said in a phone interview today. “We can’t generalize. It’s the earliest crops, so also those that suffered most.”
Farmers in the Charente department harvested between 3 and 4 metric tons a hectare (2.47 acres) yesterday, compared with normal yields for the region of 5.5 to 6 tons a hectare, according to Pinchon.
France had its second-hottest April since 1900 and one of the driest since 1953, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Local authorities in Charente started imposing limits on water use as early as April 10, ahead of other French regions, according to the Environment Ministry.
Malting barley for November delivery has risen 25 percent on NYSE Liffe in Paris this month to 338.50 euros ($479) a ton.
“In the worst cases, the yield has been divided by two compared to last year,” Pinchon said. “It’s rather bad.”
La Rochelle, to the west of the Charente department, received 5.6 millimeters (0.22 inch) of rain so far in May, less than a tenth of the normal value of 59 millimeters, according to forecaster Meteo France.
The French barley harvest started about three weeks ahead of the usual schedule as drought and heat stressed the crop, Pinchon said.
France produced 10.2 million tons of barley last year, according to crops office FranceAgriMer. The region of Poitou-Charentes, which includes the Charente department, accounted for 4.4 percent of the harvest, crops office data shows.
The French wheat harvest, the European Union’s biggest, is estimated to start around June 15, also ahead of the normal harvesting schedule, according to Pinchon.
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