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EU Soft-Wheat Area Seen Rising 3% on Increase in Poland, Romania

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Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- European Union farmers will probably increase the soft-wheat area for harvesting this year by 3 percent on increased planting in Poland and Romania, French crop office FranceAgriMer said.

Soft wheat may be sown on 23.8 million hectares (58.8 million acres) from 23 million hectares in 2012, the crop office wrote in documents handed out at a meeting in Montreuil-sous-Bois, France, today.

Farmers in Poland, France and Germany last year plowed under some of their wheat fields after frost damaged plants, while Romanian producers suffered from drought. The EU grows about a fifth of the world’s wheat.

“The persistently high prices on the global market since June 2012 have incited the European farmers to favor sowing of soft wheat,” FranceAgriMer wrote.

France’s soft-wheat area is expected to rise 2 percent, German sowing may increase by 3 percent and farmers in Poland and Romania will lift the area by 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively, according to the crop office.

“The main producers, which are France and Germany, should see their areas climb,” FranceAgriMer wrote. “Poland and Romania are seeing major increases, but these figures have to be put in perspective, with bad results in 2012-13 due to unfavorable weather conditions.”

Spanish farmers will probably increase the country’s soft-wheat area by 4 percent, while those in Italy may increase planting by 11 percent, the figures show. Hungary’s soft-wheat area is seen advancing 3 percent.

For the U.K., the EU’s third-largest grower, the planted area is expected to fall 11 percent, sliding more than 200,000 hectares to 1.78 million hectares.

“In the U.K. the progress of planting is greatly hampered by the abundant rains, particularly on the eastern part of the country,” FranceAgriMer wrote.

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