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Enough rain say Spain wheat farmers

Madrid, May 31, 2011

Spanish rainfall has been enough to allow the wheat crop to develop in the import-dependent country, farmers say, even as drought causes concern in northern European producers.

Official data on Tuesday showed rain in the week to May 29 was 67.4 per cent of the historical average, but farmers said weekend storms had delayed field work in southerly Andalusia, where most of the country's durum wheat is grown.

Hail storms on Monday may have damaged crops in the northern Castilla-Leon grainbelt, but farmers said it was too early to tell. Harvesting was due to begin there in the second week of June.

'The cereal crop has had plenty of rain - we haven't had the same problems as France - but you can never have too much. You can be water-logged one week then scorched the next,' an official at the Asaja union said.

Even with a bumper crop, Spain will still need to import at least 10 million tonnes of cereal in the coming market year to fill a structural gap between production and demand.

The Ministry for Environment and Rural Affairs added in a weekly bulletin that reservoirs set aside for irrigation had ebbed but that water stored was still comfortably above average. The reservoirs were 82.7 per cent full, down from 83.1 per cent last week. The average for the last ten years is 63.9 per cent.

Crops such as maize need irrigation to grow in Spain's arid climate and poor soil.

Even in a bumper crop year, Spain still has to import upwards of 10 million tonnes of cereal, making it a market which lures sellers from Argentina to Kazakhstan.-Reuters




Tags: agriculture | Spain | farming | Crops | food grains |

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