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2022 straw cereal, rapeseed and protein crop harvest: heterogeneous yields but good quality

10 Aug 2022

After a dry start to the year, the lack of rain continued in the spring, coupled with abnormally high temperatures. These exceptional weather conditions led to an unprecedented disparity in yields for most major crops. The quality of the 2022 French harvest will nevertheless meet market expectations.

Cereals and rapeseed benefited from good planting and development conditions in the autumn. Although the exceptionally hot and dry spring had an impact on the density of cereal ears, especially in superficial soils, the high level of sunlight favoured fertility, particularly in deep soils. The return of rains at the beginning of June contributed to good grain filling in the latest areas. The spring weather conditions altered the yield potential of most crops but, on the other hand, limited pest pressure. Straw cereal harvests were down by 4% compared to the average of the last ten years, due to the decline in surface areas, except for barley, and very heterogeneous yields depending on the type of soil. Rapeseed was distinguished this year by very good yields, increased areas and high oil content. In terms of quality, the 2022 harvest will meet the needs of users in the various market segments.

Soft wheat: harvest down but of good quality

According to the Service de la Statistique et de la Prospective (SSP) of the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, the production of soft wheat in 2022 will be down.
According to the Statistics and Forecasting Service (SSP) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, soft wheat production is estimated at 33.9 Mt (million tonnes), down 3% compared to the five-year average. However, the regions of the large north-western quarter show yields close to or above the five-year average. Strong local disparities were observed following hydric and thermal stress, and occasionally, following frost and hail episodes. In terms of quality, protein contents are high to very high in the south of the country. In the northern half, they are generally satisfactory, around 11% on average, but very heterogeneous. Specific weights are variable, but generally remain at the levels expected by the markets. They are high to very high in the northern third of France. Despite the stormy weather at harvest time, the Hagberg falling number is compatible with human food use in most cases. The water content of wheat at harvest is lower than usual throughout the country, which is an advantage for grain preservation.

Durum wheat: contrasted yields and satisfactory quality

With areas down by nearly 13% over the year and a slight drop in yields compared to the previous campaign, the durum wheat harvest is estimated at 1.4 Mt by the SSP, with marked regional contrasts. This heterogeneity is also reflected in the quality, which is globally satisfactory. Thus, protein contents regularly reach 14%, with the exception of the South-East.
Overall, specific weights are satisfactory; very variable in the West-Ocean and South-West basins, they are correct in the South-East to very good in the Centre. Moreover, there is very little speckling and mitadinage remains limited.

Winter barley: a crop that should meet market needs

Winter barley production should reach 8.4 Mt in 2022, up 2% compared to the five-year average. Despite the extreme conditions encountered in spring, yields would be higher than the five-year average in the northern half of the country. In terms of quality, the protein content is fairly homogeneous and in line with the needs of maltsters. The high temperatures at the time of filling had contrasting effects, depending on the type of soil, on thousand grain weights, specific weights and calibrations, which are heterogeneous, from low to high. This year, the autumn-sown spring barleys show higher yields and quality than winter barleys.

Spring barley: yields down sharply but good grading

Spring barley suffered particularly from the weather conditions in May-June. The production is estimated at less than 3 Mt, down 8% from last year and nearly 16% from the average of the last five years, due to sharply lower yields. Protein contents are variable and often high. Grades are good to very good.

Rapeseed: record yields and very good oil content on a large part of the area

The harvest is coming to an end in northern France. Average yields are good to very good in most regions, with local records. Production, currently estimated at 4.3 Mt, with a surface area of 1.2 Mha and a national average yield of nearly 36 q/ha, could be revised upwards in view of the latest cuts. The crop year proved to be favourable for rapeseed development. However, low rainfall caused water stress, particularly in the South-West and Poitou-Charentes. Heat waves regularly caused low thousand grain weights and particularly low humidity levels, often below 5 or 6%. The average oil content of the 2022 harvest should be around 44.5%, above the five-year average (43.2%).

Protein crops: contrasting situations by region

With an area of 145,000 ha, the protein pea harvest (excluding peas from mixtures with cereals) is expected to be around 430,000 tonnes, down on last year. The situation varies from region to region. The year's low rainfall and the heat episodes during flowering penalized spring peas and field beans, whose yields were disappointing (less than 20 q/ha on average in Poitou-Charentes and Burgundy, around 27 q/ha in Hauts-de-France).
Winter varieties, more present in the East and the Paris Basin, partially escaped the water stress. While their yield is low in shallow soils (28 q/ha on average), it exceeds 40 q/ha in deep soils. The overall quality of winter peas is good and their protein content, like that of spring peas, should be between 22 and 23%, within the ten-year average.

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