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France Cuts Rapeseed Area Estimate as Farmers Plow Under Fields

France cut the estimate for this year’s rapeseed area after poor crop development caused by excessive winter rains prompted farmers to plow under fields.

French rapeseed planting fell an estimated 8 percent to 1.48 million hectares (3.65 million acres) from 1.61 million hectares a year earlier, the Agriculture Ministry wrote in an online report yesterday. That’s down from last month’s outlook for 1.52 million hectares of the oilseed.

March was unusually cold and wet, with precipitation that was 52 percent above normal, the ministry reported last month. France is the European Union’s largest grower of rapeseed, wheat and barley.

“The rainy winter and spring penalized the winter crops in the northern half of France, going so far as to sometimes prompt the plowing under of plots,” the ministry wrote. “The humid and cold month of March has delayed their development, as well as sowing of spring crops.”

France’s soft-wheat area is estimated to rise 2.4 percent to 4.98 million hectares, similar to last month’s outlook, while the outlook for the barley area was little changed at 1.6 million hectares, falling 5.1 percent from 2012 as less spring barley was planted.

Corn planting is predicted to be little changed at 1.72 million hectares, according to the ministry.

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