EU predicts up to 4 percent rise in wheat yields by 2022
* Low yield gains, land constraints to limit EU wheat output
* Area planted to barley set to fall, but yields seen up
* Sharp increase expected in maize yields and harvested area
BRUSSELS, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Common or milling wheat yields in the European Union are forecast to grow by a maximum of 4 percent in the coming decade, with a similar increase in harvested area, the European Commission's agriculture department said on Friday.
Despite strong demand and relatively high cereals prices, land constraints and slow yield growth will limit any increase in EU wheat output, the Commission said in a preview of its medium-term forecast for agricultural markets, due in December.
"We expect more area to go to common wheat, roughly 4 percent, and yields are expected to go up by 3.5 to 4 percent over a period of 10 years," Tassos Haniotis, head of economic analysis in the Commission's farm department, told a news briefing.
"This shows how slow the growth of yields is going to be," he said.
The EU produces more wheat annually than any other crop, with plantings currently accounting for about a third of all arable land in the bloc.
The EU's combined output of common and durum wheat is seen at 131 million tonnes this year, according to the Commission's latest forecast.
A decline of 12 percent is predicted in the harvested area for barley between now and 2022. Barley is currently the second most widely grown grain in Europe, occupying about a fifth of all cropland.
However, the likely overall decline in barley production will be partly offset by a projected 8 percent rise in yields in the coming decade, the forecast showed.
By contrast, EU maize yields are expected to jump by about 12 percent between now and 2022, along with an estimated 11 percent growth in harvested area, according to the Commission. (Reporting by Charlie Dunmore; Editing by Anthony Barker)
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