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Spain Lifts Wheat and Barley Harvest Forecasts After Rainy April

Spain raised the outlook for this year’s wheat and barley harvests after April was wetter than normal and now expects the soft-wheat crop to slide 22 percent, less than the drop expected a month ago.

Soft-wheat production this year will fall to 4.63 million metric tons from 5.96 million tons in 2011, based on conditions at the end of March, the Agriculture Ministry wrote in an online report dated yesterday. It predicted a 4.28 million ton harvest of the grain last month.

Spain on average had 85 millimeters (3.35 inches) of rain in April, 20 millimeters above normal for the month, following the driest December-to-February period since at least 1947 and the least rain in March since 1997, the ministry reported May 4. The rain mitigated dry winter conditions, the European Union’s crop-forecasting unit reported yesterday.

“Precipitation had arrived just in time to mitigate the potential negative effects that the long dry period from December could have caused in northern and central Spain,” the EU’s Monitoring Agricultural Resources unit wrote. “Soft wheat and barley in Castilla La Mancha and Castilla y Leon have benefited substantially from this rainfall.”

Harvesting of durum wheat, the hard variety used to make pasta and couscous, is forecast to slide 42 percent to 545,200 tons, compared with a previous outlook for a crop of 597,900 tons, the ministry wrote.

Rainfall in the south of Spain arrived too late because winter grains were already in their grain-filling stage, cutting yields for durum wheat, according to the EU’s crop unit.

Spain’s total wheat output is forecast to fall 25 percent to 5.18 million tons, compared with the 4.97 million tons expected a month ago and down from 6.9 million tons in 2011.

Spanish farmers may harvest 5.88 million tons of barley this year, slumping 29 percent from 2011 and up from the previous outlook of 5.65 million tons, the ministry wrote.

Corn planting is expected to slip 3.8 percent to 355,400 hectares (878,193 acres), based on the situation at the end of April, according to the ministry.

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