Overall, winter combinable crops are looking in strong condition and yields are expected to be close to the five-year average, according to the latest Mars crop bulletin, released by EU Commission on 20th March 2023. In its first set of yield forecasts for the 2023 crop, the commission pegged soft wheat at 5.99 mt/ha (+3% y-o-y), winter barley at 5.91 mt/ha (-0% y-o-y) and rapeseed at 3.29 mt/ha (-1% y-o-y).
In the major production regions of Germany and France, conditions for winter crops are looking strong and the situation seems positive for spring plantings. In other countries including Hungary, Austria, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Cyprus, winter crops are currently in good condition, but additional rainfall is needed to replenish soil moisture and allow crops to develop moving forward.
In the south of Europe, drought is a major concern, with Spain and Portugal facing low reservoir levels and adverse soil moisture conditions. The low reservoir levels are severely limiting the availability of irrigation, which is likely to weigh on crop yields, particularly in the horticultural sector.
For winter crops, winter hardening in northern European crops has been good, but de-hardening has occurred in large parts of Europe due to the above-average temperatures over winter, putting winter cereals yields at risk if there is a late cold spell. At this stage, any occurrence of winter kill remains a watchpoint, as the risk of a cold snap is low in the current weather forecast.