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Spain's 'wheat harvest to beat official forecasts'

21.06.2010 12:37 "Agro Perspectiva" (Kyiv) Spain’s soft wheat harvest may be on course to rebound by 44%, far more than farmers or officials have predicted, potentially reducing import demand from one of Europe’s biggest importers. Accoe, the Spanish grain merchants’ association, has estimated the Spanish soft wheat crop at 4.9m tonnes. The forecast is 850,000 tonnes higher than the government estimate, and 1.4m tonnes higher than a figure from farmers’ union Asaja earlier in the week. While there is a consensus that ample rains have meant Spain’s crop has enjoyed much better conditions than last year, when wheat output was limited to 3.4m tonnes by drought, farmers have warned that rainfall has proved too strong, stunting growth and leaching away herbicides. The Accoe forecast, coupled with an estimate that there will be 2.6m tonnes of grain left unsold in the country when 2009–10 closes this month, imply weaker demand for foreign grain from a country which represents one of the world’s biggest importers, taking about 10m tonnes a year from abroad. Indeed, the country attracts interest not just from its European neighbours such as the UK — which relies on Spain as its biggest export markets, with exports of some 900,000–2.3m tonnes a year — but from Argentina and Ukraine. However, a tighter market did not necessarily pose a setback for the UK, given weakening hopes for the country’s crop, Jonathan Lane, trading manager at grain merchant Gleadell said. But, after a dry spring, analysts such as Strategie Grains were trimming forecasts from figures of 16m-tonnes plus that had been mentioned, while wheat ethanol plants were taking a growing amount of the UK crop. Furthermore, Denmark, a key competitor, is «also looking at a smaller surplus», Mr Lane said. «The UK should be able to get rid of its exports without too much a problem.»

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