French Wheat Yields Still Rising in Northwest as South Stagnates

Wheat yields in the northwest of France, the European Union’s largest grower, have continued to increase in the past 12 years even as they stagnated on a national level, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Soft-wheat yields in the Upper Normandy region on France’s northwest coast have risen an average 80 kilograms (176 pounds) per hectare (2.47 acres) annually between 2000 and 2012, the ministry wrote in an online report today. Yields have dropped in the region south of a line from Poitou-Charentes in the southwest to Lorraine in the northeast, ministry data show.

“South of the Loire River, the soft-wheat yield seems to have reached a plateau,” the ministry wrote. “The soft-wheat yield continues to progress mainly in the northwest.”

France’s regions in the northwest have an oceanic climate, which has a moderating effect on hot summer weather that can be “disastrous” for winter grains, the ministry wrote. That means crops in those regions have been somewhat spared from periods of hot and dry weather in recent years, it said.

France’s soft-wheat yields have stabilized in recent years after climbing to 7.3 tons per hectare in 2000 from 6.5 tons per hectare in 1989 and an average 5.1 tons per hectare in the 1980-82 period, ministry data show. Yields have shown “major” swings since 2000 due to adverse weather in 2003, 2007 and 2011, it said.

In the Pays de la Loire region on France’s Atlantic Coast, yields have increased by an average 40 kilograms per hectare in the past 12 years, while in Nord-Pas-de-Calais they’ve increased by 30 kilograms per hectare, the report showed.

“Despite stagnating on a national level, the soft wheat yield continues to progress in several regions, particularly in the north and the west,” the ministry wrote.

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