Brussels -- This year total cereal production in the EU-271 is forecast to be well above 2012 levels and above the average of the past five years. This agricultural year has so far been marked by an unusually prolonged winter for western and central Europe and heavy rainfall in May and June. However, the impact of poor weather on crops in some areas of the EU has been offset in other areas; for example, the Iberian Peninsula is expecting an excellent season. This forecast, published by the European Commission, is based on analyses by the Commission's in-house science service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), using an advanced crop yield forecasting system2.
After an average winter, spring (March – May) was colder-than-usual in western and central Europe, leading to a prolonged winter dormancy period. In fact, March was one of the coldest months on record. As a consequence, a significantly delayed start to the spring season was observed in most of Europe, with the exception of the Mediterranean regions and around the Black Sea, where warmer than average conditions were recorded. During spring, most of Europe experienced heavy rain; it was the wettest spring on record in northern Italy, southern France and Spain. Conditions in Spain were especially favourable, leading to high yield expectations. From mid-April onwards mild weather triggered a vegetation boost in most parts of western and central Europe which compensated for the previous delay and led to the positive yield prospects. Towards the end of May / beginning of June, an exceptionally wet period over central Europe led to overly saturated soils and flooding, mainly in Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and, to a smaller extent, in Poland. In contrast, spring brought a shortage of rain to the United Kingdom, northern France, the Benelux, the Scandinavian Peninsula, the Balkan region, and the surrounding areas of the Black Sea and eastern Mediterranean regions, where the crop cycle is also advanced due to the warm weather.
The forecast published by the European Commission provides yield estimates for the main crops throughout the European Union and identifies the areas most affected by stress conditions.
The yield forecast for cereals (wheat, barley, maize, other cereals) is 5.2 tonnes per hectare across the EU, clearly above last year (by more than 5%) and above the five-year average The total area used in the European Union for cereals in 2013 is slightly higher (+1.3%) compared to 2012.
For individual crops across the EU-27 compared to last year (updated with latest data), the latest yield forecasts show the following trends3:
- soft wheat: 5.5 t/ha (+2.1%)
- durum wheat: 3.3 t/ha (+6.4%)
- barley: 4.7 t/ha (+6.3%)
- grain maize: 7.1 t/ha (+16.3%)
- Oilseeds and tuber crops:
- rape seed: 3.0 t/ha (-4.1%)
- sunflower: 1.9 t/ha (+14.0%)
- potato: 30.1 t/ha (+1%)
- sugar beet: 65.65 t/ha (+0.2%)
Soft wheat yield as a total is currently forecast to be above last year's. Forecasts for France as the biggest producer show lower yields compared to last year, whereas higher yield levels are foreseen in Spain, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
Barley at EU level is pushed above last year’s values by 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.
Grain maize is forecast to have a yield clearly above last year’s yield, but it should be noted that this is a forecast at an early stage of the season for maize. Wet conditions have delayed or hampered sowing in two maize growing regions; Aquitaine (France) and Lombardy (Italy).
During the agricultural season, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) regularly issues forecasts for the main crop yields and produces analyses of the impact of weather conditions on crop production. These are based on methodologies using satellite remote sensing and mathematical models which simulate crop growth.
The models and methodology in use have been conceived, experimentally developed and operationally implemented within the JRC. The crop yield forecasts, analyses and full description of the methodology are available at the following web addresses:
The European Commission's Directorate General of Agriculture regularly presents short term outlooks for arable crops, meat and dairy markets, based on reflections of market experts, which analyses the impact of crop harvest forecasts on animal sectors. The 'Summer 2013' edition is available at
- With the accession of Croatia the upcoming MARS Bulletins will present the aggregate for EU-28
- Disclaimer: The crop yield forecasts are based on an integrated use of statistical analysis, crop growth simulation models, observed climatic data and remote sensing observations. They are issued based on the hypothesis that the remaining part of the season will not face additional extreme events which would have an impact on summer crops (maize, potato, sunflower, sugar beet) or winter cereals as, for the countries in western, central and northern Europe, the growing season is still on-going. The latest forecasts have been issued on the 17th of June based on data up to the 10th of June 2013.
- It should be noted that for grain maize, potato, sunflower and sugar beet, figures are only projections at this stage as the harvest has not yet started in the main producing regions. The same is true for the cereals with the exception of the countries bordering the Mediterranean.