French Farmers Plant Most Wheat on Record as Prices Recover

France’s farmers seeded more land with wheat this year than at any time since 1955.

French growers increased planting of soft wheat, used to make bread flour, by 3.4 percent to 5.18 million hectares (12.8 million acres), the agriculture ministry reported on Tuesday. That’s the most in 60 years, Eurostat data show.

Paris-traded wheat futures have risen 27 percent from a September low, compared with a 17 percent increase for rapeseed, making the grain more attractive for farmers to plant. Wheat is France’s biggest crop, covering 18 percent of farmland in 2014.

“Growers have been disappointed by corn and rapeseed prices,” said Leopold Michallet, a consultant at Paris-based farm adviser Agritel. “Wheats are really looking great, absent any weather setback, we’re headed for a very good harvest.”

About 91 percent of France’s soft wheat was rated good or very good condition as of March 30, crop office FranceAgriMer reported on Friday. That compares with 76 percent a year ago.

If conditions remain favorable, French farmers could reap more than the record soft-wheat crop gathered in 1998, said Francois Luguenot, head of market analysis at InVivo, the largest exporter of French grain. The country produced 38.2 million tons of the grain that year, Eurostat data showed.

Wheat for May delivery climbed 0.7 percent to $5.29 3/4 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade at 10:05 a.m. in Singapore on Wednesday. France was the world’s third-biggest wheat exporter in 2013-2014, according to data from the International Grains Council and Eurostat.

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