Drought and Heat Could Be ‘Death Blow’ for French Rapeseed

France’s rapeseed area may slump 30% to 40% in 2021 as dry conditions prevent part of the crop from sprouting, Luc Lorin, who runs crop-analytics firm Visio-Crop, said in a tweet on Saturday.

Rapeseed in France is expected to cover less than 1 million hectares next year, according to Lorin. That would be the lowest in at least two decades, according to data from the European Union’s statistics office.

After a lack of rain in recent weeks, a blast of hot weather next week will mean “the death blow for rapeseed” with temperatures north of the Loire River rising to between 30 degrees and 34 degrees Celsius (86 degrees to 93 degrees Fahrenheit), Lorin said. “This weather isn’t going to work out well for the emerging rapeseed -- if it has emerged.”

France alternates with neighboring Germany as the EU’s largest producer of rapeseed, which is crushed to produce oil used for cooking and to manufacture biodiesel. The harvested area in Germany should increase next year as conditions have been more favorable, according to Lorin.

Temperatures in France, already higher than normal for mid-September, on Monday will approach record levels for the time of year, Meteo-France forecaster Etienne Kapikian said Friday. Some localities may register extremes of 37 degrees Celsius, with temperatures 13 to 14 degrees warmer than normal, he said.

In addition to the “exceptional warmth” for September, there is no improvement in the rain forecast through the end of next week, Meteo-France meteorologist Francois Jobard said in a tweet on Friday. For the Burgundy region in eastern France, the past three summers have been the driest since at least 1959, according to Jobard.

Farmers in France, the EU’s biggest agricultural producer, have faced extreme weather in the past season, including a waterlogged winter, one of the warmest-ever springs and the driest July in more than 60 years. That’s affected production of crops from wheat to grapes, and reduced prospects for corn. In the Burgundy wine region, grape harvests started Aug. 12, the earliest date in records going back to 1371.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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