German grain harvest to drop 12 percent: sector federation

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Germany, Europe's second biggest grain producer after France, will see its harvest fall 12 percent or more this year, an industry group warned Wednesday, adding to pressure on prices after Russia banned exports due to a record drought.

Total harvests of wheat, barley, rye and triticale -- a hybrid of wheat and rye -- are estimated at 43.7 million tonnes, six million tonnes less than in 2009, agricultural federation DRV said in a statement.

But "given the heatwave in July, a bigger decline is to be feared," it warned.

Like many European countries, Germany witnessed higher than normal temperatures in July following a long, cold and wet winter, conditions that do not favour a strong harvest.

Heavy rains since then might produce crops of inferior quality, in particular for wheat destined for milling.

Germany should not face shortages itself but "there will be less high-quality wheat for export than last year," the DRV warned.

Grain prices have climbed on commodities markets recently owing to record drought and wild fires in Russia which recently announced a ban on all exports for the rest of this year from August 15.

In Germany, wholesale flour prices have already gained 30 percent in some areas, said Peter Becker, head of the country's federation of bakers.

The cost of bread could be expected to rise as well in September, he told AFP.

© 2010 AFP

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