Grains Wilt in Dry Europe as England Posts Its Hottest April in 352 Years
By Tony C. Dreibus
May 4, 2011
Dry weather in France and Germany and England’s hottest April in at least 352 years are threatening crops across the European Union, producer of a fifth of the world’s wheat.
About 20 percent of average rain fell in the U.K. in April after a dry March, further reducing soil moisture, the Home- Grown Cereals Authority, an industry group, said in an e-mailed report. European wheat and rapeseed crops are “in jeopardy” after an “incredibly dry” April, according to agricultural weather forecaster Martell Crop Projections.
Dry, warm weather in Europe may reduce global wheat stockpiles already expected to fall 7.6 percent in the year that ends on May 31, the biggest decline since 2007. Food prices reached a record in February, driving 44 million people into poverty, and wheat consumption may rise to an all-time high this year. The world “cannot afford” for Europe’s crop to be diminished, Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, said last month.
“The world needs a bumper crop in all grains from the U.S. and from Europe and from Canada or we are in trouble,” Dennis Gartman, an economist and author of The Gartman Letter, said today by e-mail. “The winter wheat crop here is in trouble, and the spring wheat crop in the Dakotas and the Canadian prairies may be very badly delayed and therefore in jeopardy.”
Feed-wheat futures traded in London almost doubled in the past year and milling-wheat futures gained 91 percent in Paris trading. Prices gained partly after the worst Russian drought in a half-century cut production, causing the government to ban exports of grains. Chicago futures, the world benchmark, rose 55 percent in the past year. Rising prices were partly blamed for inciting riots in north Africa and the Middle East that led to the ouster of presidents in Tunisia and Egypt.