France raises soft wheat crop estimate, cuts maize

PARIS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - France’s farm ministry on Tuesday raised its estimate of the country’s 2019 soft wheat harvest to 39.7 million tonnes from 39.45 million seen a month ago, confirming that the EU’s top grain grower had harvested one of its largest-ever wheat crops.

The revised soft wheat production estimate was up 16.8% compared with last year’s volume and 12.6% above the five-year average, the ministry said in a crop report.

For grain maize, harvesting of which is in progress, the ministry cut its forecast of this year’s crop, excluding production for seeds, to 12.5 million tonnes from 12.8 million last month.

That would be nearly stable versus last year’s volume, with an increase in planted area offsetting an expected decrease in yields following heatwaves and drought this summer, the ministry said.

However, the expected 2019 crop would be 10.5% below the five-year average, it said.

For sugar beet the ministry cut its outlook for 2019 to 36.9 million tonnes from 37.0 million expected last month and now 7.5% below last year’s harvest.

The ministry left unchanged its estimates for the barley harvest at from 13.6 million and the rapeseed harvest at 3.5 million tonnes. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide Editing by Gus Trompiz)