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Rain arrived too late to save EU drought-hit summer crops, MARS says

PARIS (Reuters) - The European Union's crop monitoring service MARS on Monday cut its summer crops yield forecasts here again, saying rainfall in many parts of the bloc had not been sufficient to reverse damage caused by dry and hot weather earlier in the season.

MARS put its yield outlook for the EU’s grain maize crop, which will be harvested in the autumn, at 6.39 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) down from 6.63 t/ha projected last month and now 19% below both the 2021 level and the five-year average.

For sugar beet, another spring-sown crop also due to be harvested in the autumn, MARS projected the EU’s yield at 73.2 t/ha, down from 75.3 t/ha forecast in August.

“The summer drought that kept its grip on Europe came to an end in most regions. However, the improved weather conditions arrived too late to significantly benefit summer crops,” MARS said in a monthly report.

“In some regions, hot and dry conditions continued well into the current review period, resulting in a further reduction of yield expectations.”

MARS’ September maize yield outlook was nearly 20% below the 7.92 t/ha estimate released in May.

Forecasters have been revising down their estimates for the EU crops in recent weeks to take account of summer damage.

For sunflower seed, MARS slightly trimmed its EU yield forecast to 2.05 t/ha from 2.06 t/ha previously, now 14% below 2021. In soybeans, it forecast the average yield at 2.40 t/ha, down from 2.46 t/ha last month and 15% lower than last year.

The monitor did not give updated yield estimates for the EU’s winter crops, including soft wheat, winter barley and rapeseed, for which harvesting is finished in most of Europe.

However, it said rainfall since mid-August had improved soil conditions for sowing of next year’s winter crops - particularly rapeseed - in most regions, it said.

Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Gus Trompiz and Grant McCool

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