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EU cereal harvest estimated to rise slightly this year

Cereal harvest in the European Union will rise slightly this year but remain below the average of the last five years, a EU forecast said on Tuesday.

The 2007 total cereal harvest will be 276 million tons, approximately 10 million tons more production than 2006 figures or 1.6% less than the last five year average, said the Joint Research Center (JRC), an in-house scientific service of the European Commission. The JRC said heat waves, droughts and excessive rain across Europe has brought mixed results, with Central and Eastern Europe losing out the most.

Across the EU, the growing season trend has been exceptional with mild winter and hot spring temperatures boosting crop growth. Northern regions have been particularly hit with intensive rain while heat waves and drought spells have had a detrimental effect in Eastern countries, especially around the Black Sea region.

In Romania, for example, the predictions are that wheat yield will be 20.1% below the five-year average, while in Bulgaria barley yield will be down 14.6% and for maize the decrease could be as much as 40%. As to individual crops, production of durum wheat in 2007 was estimated to lead the increase with 13.5% more than the five-year average, followed by potato, gaining 8.1%. Rape seed yield across EU will drop by 5.1%. (