German Wheat Seen Avoiding Flooding Damage as Strawberries Soak

Wheat and barley crops in southeast Germany will probably avoid damage from rain and flooding as strawberries and asparagus growers face losses from inundated fields, analysts and farm groups said.

Central Europe has been hit by floods after wet weather this weekend swelled rivers, halting shipping on the upper Rhine River and the Danube. Southern Bavaria and most of Saxony received 50 to 125 millimeters (2-4.9 inches) of rain in the past two days, as much as in the entire previous three months, while the southeast of Bavaria got 125 to 250 millimeters, data from weather office Deutscher Wetterdienst show.

“It’s a big problem for people who reap strawberries and asparagus, they can’t harvest at the moment,” said Johannes Funke, a spokesman for farm lobby Deutscher Bauernverband. “It’s asparagus time right now. Wheat and other cereals at the moment are growing and green and not close to harvest.”

Germany is the European Union’s second-biggest grower of wheat and rapeseed behind France, and Bavaria makes up 19 percent of the country’s wheat surface and 15 percent of the rapeseed area, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Milling wheat for November delivery advanced 1 percent to 208.25 euros ($270.80) a metric ton on NYSE Liffe in Paris by 4:35 p.m., while malting barley for delivery the same month advanced 1.2 percent to 240.25 euros a ton.

Most Developed

“The most developed crop is winter barley, which is at the start of grain filling,” said Paul Gaffet, a grains analyst at Offre & Demande Agricole, a French farm adviser. “Regarding quality, we haven’t yet reached the critical stage for damage.”

Most flooding is near rivers and affecting pasture rather than cropland, according to Funke at the Berlin-based DBV. He said it’s too soon to estimate damage to grains, with harvesting expected to start closer to the end of June. The group is awaiting reports from farmers later this week.

Standing water in some plots means produce growers can’t access their strawberry fields and asparagus or plant lettuce and cabbage, Funke said.

Germany is Europe’s largest asparagus grower with production of 102,400 tons last year, more than double the harvest in runner-up Spain, according to EU statistics office Eurostat. The company is the second-biggest producer of strawberries in the 27-nation bloc, behind Spain.

Excess Rain

While there’s been excess rain in regions including Bavaria and Thuringia, it’s too early to say whether there was damage to grain and rapeseed, said Guido Seedler, a spokesman at German farm-industry group Deutscher Raiffeisenverband e.V.

For grain in Germany and Poland, there are “not too many worries” because flooding has mainly affected grassland, according to Celine Sicard, an analyst at InVivo, the largest exporter of French wheat.

Winter grains can withstand several days of flooding, while for developing spring crops losses can be “very rapid,” according to Sicard. Drier weather in Germany this week will ease wetness, MDA Weather Services wrote in a forecast today.

“If rain has been very brutal that could have caused lodging in fields, and that would impact yields and quality,” said Gaffet at ODA, referring to flattened grain. “That depends more on the violence of the rain than final amount received.”

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