French Corn Conditions Worsen for Third Week Under Soaking Rain

France’s corn crop, the European Union’s biggest, deteriorated for a third week as developing plants lacked sun and as rain almost halted planting in the main growing regions in the southwest and east.

The portion of French corn rated good fell to 61 percent in the week through June 3 from 66 percent in the previous period, while 1 percent of the crop continued to be classified as excellent, crop office FranceAgriMer reported today.

France’s southwest, center and northeast had more than double the usual rainfall in May’s last 10 days, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Sun and warmth returned this week, which will aid crops, said Celine Sicard, an analyst at Paris-based InVivo, the largest exporter of French wheat.

“We certainly won’t get to maximum yield levels,” Sicard said. “However, now that it’s warm, corn will develop in perfect conditions. The most-recurring limiting factor is water, and this year that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Maximum temperatures will be about 27 degrees Celsius (80.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the northeast today, according to weather office Meteo-France, which predicted some thunderstorms over the weekend and a mix of sun and rain next week.

Soils across southern and eastern France are saturated, according to the USDA. The city of Bergerac in the Aquitaine region had 62 hours of sunshine in June’s first six days, according to Meteo-France. That followed 135 sunshine hours for all of last month, against 211 hours normally. Aquitaine grew 19 percent of France’s corn last year, the largest share.

Yield Outlook

“A corn plant likes to have its feet in water and its head in the sun,” Sicard said. “We could maybe even hope for good yields on the area that was able to be planted.”

Corn sowing was unchanged from a week earlier at 89 percent of the national area, according to FranceAgriMer. Farmers in Aquitaine had seeded 80 percent of the planned area as of June 3, up 1 percentage point from the previous week and compared with 98 percent at the same time a year earlier.

France’s corn production may climb to 16.4 million metric tons this year from 15.7 million tons in 2012, the International Grains Council forecast last week, cutting its outlook by 100,000 tons from the previous month.

The crop was rated 77 percent good or excellent in the week through May 13, according to FranceAgriMer, 15 percentage points higher than this week.

Alsace Crop

In Aquitaine, corn judged to be good fell to 66 percent of the crop from 79 percent in the previous week and none was rated excellent, according to FranceAgriMer. In Alsace, the second-biggest corn-growing region last year, the portion classified as good slumped to 56 percent from 61 percent.

The percentage of the corn crop with six to eight leaves visible increased to 16 percent from 5 percent, and compared with 51 percent at the same time last year, the report showed.

Spring barley also suffered, with the crop rated good or excellent falling to 73 percent from 78 percent in the prior week, according to FranceAgriMer. Soft-wheat and winter-barley ratings remained unchanged, with 68 percent and 67 percent of the crops getting top ratings, respectively.

Groupama SA, France’s largest agricultural insurer, said yesterday it extended the planting date for corn for farmers to still be eligible for full crop insurance to June 5 from June 1 due to the weather. Flooding affected 70,000 hectares (172,975 acres) of farmland at the end of May, the company said.

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