(Adds detail, comment, other crops)
HAMBURG, May 16 (Reuters) - The association of German farm cooperatives on Wednesday forecast that Germany’s 2018 wheat crop would fall 2.0 percent from 2017 to 23.98 million tonnes.
The cooperatives forecast Germany’s 2018 winter rapeseed crop would fall 3.3 percent to 4.12 million tonnes.
In its previous harvest forecast in April, the association had forecast a 2018 wheat harvest of 24.29 million tonnes and a winter rapeseed crop of 4.62 million tonnes.
The reason for the cut in the wheat harvest forecast was the estimate released on Tuesday by Germany’s national statistics office that German farmers had reduced winter wheat sowings for the 2018 crop by 5.6 percent, the association said.
Wet autumn weather hindered sowings of winter wheat, traditionally Germany’s largest crop, while a cold start to the spring has delayed growth.
Recent warm weather has permitted plants to catch up with growth, but parts of the country are now suffering from dryness, the association said.
Rapeseed plants have not developed well in much of the country, it added. Recent high temperatures that helped wheat have led to too-rapid vertical growth in rapeseed without sufficient branch development, and buds are suffering, it said, explaining why the rapeseed crop forecast was being reduced.
Germany is the European Union’s second largest wheat producer after France and in most years the EU’s largest grower of rapeseed, Europe’s main oilseed for edible oil and biodiesel production.
German farmers have planted more spring grains partly because of the difficulty in sowing winter crops.
The spring barley crop, used for malt and beer production, is expected to jump 30.4 percent year-on-year to 2.39 million tonnes.
The winter barley crop, used mostly for animal feed, is forecast to fall 3.0 percent to 8.74 million tonnes.
The grain maize (corn) crop is projected to fall 2.6 percent to 4.30 million tonnes, the association said. (Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by Mark Potter)