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France Forecasts Smaller Winter Barley and Rapeseed Crops

June 11 (Bloomberg) -- French farmers will harvest less winter barley and rapeseed this year after fields were damaged by freezing temperatures, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Winter-barley production is forecast to slide 9.9 percent to 5.69 million metric tons from 6.31 million tons, the ministry’s statistics department wrote in a monthly report. The growing area fell to 901,000 hectares (2.23 million acres) from 1.06 million hectares, while yields will rise to 6.31 tons an acre from 5.98 tons an acre, the ministry predicted.

French crops benefited from rain in April and May, after frost in February damaged wheat, barley and rapeseed plants. France was the world’s second-largest barley exporter last year behind Australia, falling from the top spot after spring drought curbed the 2011 harvest, International Trade Centre data show.

“The area seeded with winter cereals slumps following the freezing weather,” the ministry wrote. “Re-seeding is leading to a record level for the area of spring barley. The area of grain corn widens.”

Spring barley was planted on a record 885,000 hectares, jumping 81 percent from 489,000 hectares in 2011, the report showed. Farmers will seed 1.68 million hectares of corn, advancing from 1.59 million hectares last year.

Winter-rapeseed output is predicted to fall 9.7 percent to 4.84 million tons from 5.36 million tons, the Agriculture Ministry wrote in a report today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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