Rain delays wheat harvest; damage worries grow

HAMBURG — Repeated rain has delayed wheat harvesting in top European Union producers France and Germany, and dry weather is urgently needed to prevent last-minute damage, traders and analysts said on Tuesday.

“We are coming to a real nail-biting finish to the season, with wheat ready on the fields in Germany and France but with rain this week and last week stopping work,” one trader said. “Unless weather dries next week, damage will be on the cards.”

Observers stressed there was not yet concrete evidence of major late damage, although plants were already weakened by a spring drought. West Europe is forecast to have dryer weather next week, which could still allow the crop to be gathered normally, and the British harvest could also start. In France, the European Union’s largest wheat producer, harvesting was almost completely halted over the past week after repeated rain made fields too wet to cut.

But the delay does not seem to have further damaged crop quality.

“Almost everything is halted for the moment,” said Franck Wiacek, of French institute Arvalis. “There has been some harvesting this weekend but really isolated.”

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