UPDATE 1-France trims wheat crop estimate, ups maize, sugar beet

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PARIS, Nov 12 (Reuters) - France’s farm ministry on Tuesday lowered its estimate of the country’s 2019 soft wheat production due a downward area revision, but still pegged the crop as the second-largest on record.

Production of soft wheat, France’s main cereal crop, was put at 39.5 million tonnes, down from 39.7 million estimated a month ago, reflecting a 38,000 hectare reduction to the harvested area on the basis of farmer declarations to the European Union, the ministry said.

That would nonetheless be 16% above last year’s volume and 11.8% higher than the average of the past five years, it said in a crop report.

This year’s production level also remained France’s second-biggest wheat crop after a record 40.9 million tonnes in 2015.

Barley production was raised to 13.7 million tonnes from 13.6 million, now 23% above last year’s output, as the ministry made an upward adjustment to area.

Wheat and barley escaped damage from summer heatwaves and drought, which had a greater impact on later-developing crops like maize (corn) and sugar beet.

For grain maize, harvesting of which is continuing, the ministry increased its forecast of this year’s crop, excluding production for seeds, to 12.6 million tonnes from 12.5 million last month, as it made an upward revision to yields.

However, expected production would remain stable compared with last year’s disappointing harvest and 10% below the five-year average.

For sugar beet, harvesting of which is also in progress, projected output was raised to 37.2 million tonnes from 36.9 million as forecast yields were also increased.

The revised production would be nearly 7% below last year’s crop and 3.3% below the five-year mean.

The ministry trimmed its estimate of this year’s rapeseed harvest, to 3.4 million tonnes from 3.5 million previously and now 33.6% lower than the five-year average.

The rapeseed harvest was dented by a steep fall in area after drought-disrupted sowing.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Forrest Crellin, editing by Louise Heavens