June 25, 2014 / 11:42 AM / 3 years ago

EU barley harvest seen less, but enough

* Mild winter cuts need to re-sow with barley

* 2014 harvest starting, enough to meet needs

HAMBURG, June 25 (Reuters) - The European Union’s harvest of barley, used for animal feed and malt output, is likely to fall this year but supplies will be adequate to meet the bloc’s needs, analysts said on Wednesday.

German analyst FO Licht forecasts the EU barley harvest of all types will fall to around 53 million tonnes from 59.6 million last year. EU grain trade association Coceral estimates the 2014 crop at 55.9 million tonnes.

“The harvest will be the smallest in three years but will be sufficient to meet estimated EU demand in the new year of about 50 million tonnes,” said F.O. Licht grains analyst Claus Keller. “The crop reduction is largely due to the mild winter which meant that frost-damaged wheat did not have to be replanted.”

Observers expect smaller crops in Britain, Spain and Scandinavia, but larger crops in parts of west Europe.

In the EU’s largest barley producer France, winter barley harvesting started last week and early results show good yields and quality, brokers said.

Recent warm, dry weather helped crops to mature and allowed harvesting to move rapidly northwards, with field work now started in the Marne valley east of Paris.

In the southwest, where harvesting usually starts earlier than in other regions, 20 to 30 percent of the winter barley area had been cut, brokers said.

“Yields have met expectations and are in line with last year’s level,” one broker said.

Winter barley is the main variety grown in France and is mostly consumed in animal feed, while later-sown spring barley provides more crop for making the beer ingredient malt.

France’s farm ministry forecasts a 2014 winter barley crop of 7.9 million tonnes, up 8 percent from 2013.

In the second largest producer Germany, harvesters started rolling this week in early areas and more widespread harvesting is expected to start at the weekend.

Germany’s harvest of all barley types is likely to rise 2.3 percent on the year to 10.5 million tonnes, the farm cooperative association forecasts.

“Overall things are looking good, the results from the first cuts in Germany are positive but are usually not representative and will may get a better picture next week,” one German analyst said. “I am optimistic we will get good quality.”

British crop consultants ADAS expect the UK’s 2014 barley crop to revert to normal production patterns at around 5.9 million tonnes, but sharply down from 7.1 million tonnes the previous year, when adverse weather forced farmers to plant more spring barley in place of winter crops.

Winter barley area was increased around 27 percent on the year to 394,000 hectares, while spring barley area has fallen by around 29 percent to 640,000 hectares, ADAS said.

“Crops are looking quite well, we had a mild winter which encouraged continued growth and a mild spring which allowed them to develop,” said ADAS analyst Susan Twining. “We would be expecting at least average yields and harvest should start in the first week of July.”

Poland’s barley crop will rise to 3.48 million tonnes, up 15 percent from last year’s especially small crop, said Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska.

“Barley fields are in a good to very good condition,” Sabaranski said. “If weather remains favourable, in the southern regions of the country spring barley harvesting could start in mid July.” (Reporting by Michael Hogan, Valerie Parent, Gus Trompiz and Sarah McFarlane, editing by William Hardy)

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