UPDATE 1-Germany’s grains crop lowest in 24 years after drought

* Germany’s grain harvest hit by drought and heatwave

* Usually an exporter, Germany may need imports

* Wheat crop down sharply, grain maize down 49.4 pct (Adds detail)

HAMBURG, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Germany’s 2018 grain harvest will be the lowest in 24 years after a drought and heatwave heavily damaged crops, the association of German farm cooperatives DRV said on Wednesday.

The grain crop will fall 20.3 percent to some 36.3 million tonnes, the smallest since 1994, the association said in a harvest report.

“The German grain harvest will in this year for the first time in many years be below domestic requirements,” the association said, signalling an import need in Germany which is usually a major grain exporter.

Germany is among several north European countries which have suffered widespread damage to this summer’s harvest from drought and heatwave, with Germany recording the highest July temperatures since 1881.

EU wheat prices surged to 5-1/2 year highs last week on fears crop damage will reduce supplies in coming months. Germany is the European Union’s second grain producer after France, and in most years the EU’s largest producer of rapeseed, Europe’s main oilseed for edible oil.

Among the worst crops hit in Germany is the grain maize (corn) harvest which will fall 49.4 percent to 2.30 million tonnes, the association said. Many farmers are using grain maize for on-farm animal feed instead of selling the crop, it said.

Germany’s 2018 winter wheat crop will fall 19.9 percent to 19.2 million tonnes. The wheat crop of all types will fall 18.6 percent to 19.9 million tonnes.

Germany’s farming union DBV, a separate organisation, had on Aug. 1 forecast that the country’s winter wheat harvest will fall around 25 percent on 2017 to about 18 million tonnes.

The overall wheat supplies on global markets are good and no shortages are expected in Germany, the cooperatives association said.

France’s farm ministry on Tuesday sharply cut its estimate of this year’s soft wheat harvest while forecasting a steep fall in maize production, underlining the impact of severe weather that has damaged farmland across Europe.

The German cooperatives also forecast Germany’s 2018 winter rapeseed crop will fall 18.6 percent on the year to 3.47 million tonnes.

Harvesting of grains and rapeseed in Germany is mostly finished, it said.

The winter barley crop, used mostly for animal feed, will fall 18.1 percent on the year to 7.38 million tonnes.

A bright spot is spring barley crop barley, used for malt and beer production, is still expected to increase by 14.2 percent on the year to 2.09 million tonnes after sowings were expanded.

Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Jane Merriman