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* French consultancy puts EU crop at 13-year low of 17.8 mln T
* French and German estimates cut on weather and insect problems
* Expects record EU imports
By Gus Trompiz and Valerie Parent
PARIS, June 3 (Reuters) - Strategie Grains has cut its forecast for this year’s European Union rapeseed harvest after downward revisions by top growers in France and Germany, adding to expectations that EU output will shrink to its lowest in more than a decade.
In its monthly oilseed report, the French consultancy lowered its estimate for the 2019/20 EU rapeseed harvest to 17.8 million tonnes from 18.85 million previously.
That would be 11% below the 2018 crop of 20 million tonnes and the smallest since 2006/07, when the EU produced 16.1 million tonnes.
“The production outlook now appears very disappointing throughout the EU,” Strategie Grains said.
“This month, the harvest has been revised sharply down, mainly in France and Germany and to a lesser extent in Romania and Poland.”
For Germany, projected production was lowered by 430,000 tonnes to 3.12 million tonnes while French output was revised down by 370,000 tonnes to 3.77 million tonnes.
Crops in both countries suffered from spring dryness, wide temperature variations and insect attacks, adding to problems caused by drought and insect damage at the start of the growing season, Strategie Grains said.
A fall in EU rapeseed output had been expected since the autumn, when drought led to a steep decline in the sown area.
Other forecasters have continued to scale back their estimates for this year’s harvest to the lowest levels in more than a decade.
Strategie Grains increased its forecast for EU rapeseed imports in the 2019/20 season to a record 5.4 million tonnes, compared with 5.1 million tonnes forecast a month ago and a 4.1 million tonne estimate for the current 2018/19 season.
The EU is expected to bring in high volumes from Australia and the Black Sea but regulations could curb shipments from Canada despite abundant Canadian supply, Strategie Grains said.
Canadian canola, a type of rapeseed, is grown using genetically modified varieties that are restricted in Europe, while most Canadian companies do not have sustainability certification to sell oilseed that would be used to make biodiesel fuel in the EU, the analyst firm said.
However, with Canadian exports to China disrupted by diplomatic tensions, operators could take steps to gain access to the EU market, it added.
Despite record expected EU imports, rapeseed stocks in the bloc were projected to fall to 1.3 million tonnes at the end of 2019/20 from the 1.9 million tonnes expected this season, a supply level Strategie Grains described as “tight”.
Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Valerie Parent Editing by David Goodman