The European Commission says cereal production in 2010 will be close to the average recorded since 2005. According to a report drafted by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the yield per hectare will be 5% above average, while cultivated areas will shrink on the whole.

Europe has faced a number of extreme weather events, such as floods and rain shortages, since the start of the year. In its report, the JRC notes that bumper harvests in some EU areas have helped counterbalance the effects of poor weather on crops in other areas. The report also says that even though the EU’s cereal harvest should reach average levels this year, extreme hot and dry conditions will have a huge impact on winter crop production in Russia.

Russia has already issued a ban on exports of wheat, corn, barley, rye and flour from 15 August through to the end of the year due to the wildfires that have devastated the country. Russia ranks fourth on the global list of wheat exporters.

Europe was hit by very low temperatures in December 2009, as well as in the first three months of 2010. The extreme cold kept farmers from starting their season on schedule. Meanwhile, both spring and early summer brought a severe shortage of rain to Belgium, the Czech Republic, northern Germany, Greece, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, eastern Poland and the UK. The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia were hit by floods in the spring. Very high temperatures were recorded in Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in June and July coupled with low rainfall.

The JRC used an novel crop yield forecasting system to provide yield estimates for the main crops across the EU. Based on its findings, the yield forecast for cereals, including wheat, barley and maize, is 5.1 tonnes per hectare across the EU, up 0.7% year-on-year, and 5.0% higher than the five-year average.

Estimates show that the overall area used in the EU for cereals in 2010 shrank by 3% year-on-year. Since 2005, individual crop yield figures in general rose in the EU-27. For cereals, grain maize recorded the biggest jump (+7.7%), followed by barley (+4.4%), soft wheat (+1.7%) and durum wheat (0.3%). For other crops, sunflower increased 7.2%, representing the highest increase in the bunch, followed by potato (+6.9%) and sugar beet (+2.3%). Rape seed was down 2.4%.

The report also estimates that the yield for soft wheat will top the five-year average. However, two leading producers from Germany and France show below average yields that are also below the level recorded in 2009. It should be noted that the dry and hot conditions that surfaced there in recent weeks have also played havoc with the yields.

Spanish farmers will likely see their yields of durum wheat drop 16% below average thanks to the excessive rainfall that affected Andalucía during the winter, while their Italian counterparts, the major producers of durum wheat, will post a similar average yield to their French neighbors.

The report also notes that the dry and hot conditions did not make a huge impact on winter barley. Germany and France will likely report average levels compared to the five-year average, but a 4% drop on 2009 levels. Spain, which covers around 25% of the spring barley output, will probably have a yield that is 15% above the five-year average.