EU Science Hub

Crop yields in EU-27 expected to be higher despite extreme weather conditions

Jul 04 2013

This year's total cereal production in the EU-27 is forecast to be well above 2012 levels and above average compared with the past five years, in spite of the unusually prolonged winter for western and central Europe and heavy rainfall in May and June. This forecast is based on JRC analyses (with data up to 10 June 2013), using an advanced crop yield forecasting system. It provides yield estimates for the main crops throughout the EU and identifies the areas most affected by stress conditions.

After an average winter, the months from March until May were colder than usual in western and central Europe, significantly delaying the start of spring in most of Europe, with the exception of the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, with warmer than average conditions. Most of Europe experienced heavy rain during spring, and conditions in Spain were particularly favourable leading to high yield expectations. From mid-April onwards mild weather triggered a vegetation boost in most parts of western and central Europe, compensating for the previous delay and leading to positive yield prospects. In the Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean regions the crop cycle was also advanced due to the warm weather conditions.

The yield forecast for cereals (wheat, barley, maize, other cereals) is 5.2 tonnes per hectare across the EU (excluding Croatia), more than 5% above last year, and above the five-year average. Barley, for example, is pushed above last year’s values following the excellent outlook for Spain, Romania and Bulgaria. Spain, which accounts for one quarter of spring barley production, is forecast to have a yield 40% above the five-year average and is experiencing an excellent season with record-high yields. Other examples are sunflower and grain maize, forecast to have a yield clearly above last year’s (+14.0% and +16.3% respectively), but it should be noted that these are forecasts at an early stage of the season for sunflower and maize.

In addition to this forecast, the European Commission published its three-yearly Short Term Agricultural Outlook today, stating that the higher EU cereals harvest could bring market relief and higher stocks in the marketing year 2013-14. However, poor pasture and forage conditions in Central and Western Europe are expected to strongly affect milk supply, in addition to declined meat production, but the expected good harvest in the Northern hemisphere could lead to lower feed prices and higher margins for livestock producers, in turn generating an increase in meat and milk production in 2014 in the context of an improved economic situation.