EU seed observatory: stocks trend down

The F.N.P.S.M.S (the French National Federation of Maize and Sorghum Seed Production) has published its observatory report on maize seed stocks (seed bag numbers). According to this data, the stock decline is confirmed at the end of the 2019 marketing year, against the background of a dynamic EU maize market. Furthermore, in the light of the challenging 2019 production conditions and ongoing market developments, a new stock decrease may be expected at the end of June 2020.

Seed maize: taking stock of the European production

Hybrid maize seed production areas have increased in 2019, in response to dwindling stocks and a dynamic market. Area planted has increased in the EU-28, too by 8 percent, reaching 150 000 hectares, with a marked increase in France: up 4 percent to 68 500 hectares, accounting for 46 maize varieties (other than sterile forms). France is the world’s first maize seed exporter, accounting for roughly 60 percent of the EU-28’s supply. The other two main EU-28 producers are Hungary (with 25 500 hectares, up 3 percent and 311 planted varieties) and Romania (25 200 hectares, up 7 percent and 222 planted varieties).

Once again, 2019 will have witnessed a series of unusual weather events throughout Europe, proving that there is no such thing as a “normal year” in the maize seed production industry: cool and humid weather and even moisture surplus at planting time, followed by drought and heat spells, and so on. Thus, harvest results have suffered the consequences everywhere in the EU-28 and should stand somewhere between 90 and 95 percent of production objectives

Market developments: grain and feed area trends in Europe

In 2019, the EU-28 saw an increase of its planted area (up 4 percent to 14,8 million hectares). The trend was the result of more favourable (yet still highly volatile) prices at the time of planting, and impacted rapeseed and winter cereal plantings in several countries. Feed maize area has risen slightly, enabling a rebuilding of stocks after a drought-stricken 2018 harvest. In Eastern Europe, maize area continues to grow (+ 6 percent), especially in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.

The trend should be confirmed for the upcoming maize plantings (for the 2020 crops), as rapeseed and winter cereal sowing operations have proved challenging yet again, particularly in France, Germany, Romania, and Ukraine. As to feed maize, the drought that hit the crops in 2019 calls for a rebuilding of feed stocks and should drive the next European area planted up slightly.

Seed maize stocks expected to drop throughout the EU

The “seed bag stock-taking” Observatory, created within the FNPSMS interprofessional organisation, has recently estimated a downtrending level of stocks. The reasons are resource-related: a 2019 production that turned out lower than the initial objectives throughout the EU (standing at 90 to 95 percent), as well as market-related: a rising demand after the 2019 plantings, which should remain at least equal to what it is now after the 2020 plantings. We should also point out that stocks of Mesurol/Thiram-treated seeds will no longer be included in the records, as a result of regulatory changes at EU level.

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