European sole maize in 2023

A significant decline in planned sowing

Maize sowing has started in Europe but is being slowed down by cool weather conditions and wet soil. The rain in March eased water concerns left over from the dry winter, particularly in France. However, sowing forecasts suggest a significant decrease in European sole maize in 2023. This trend seems related to a decline of economic competitiveness of the maize crop, with falling prices and rising production costs, a crop failure in 2022, and the entry into force of new CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) requirements. These factors guide farmers’ decisions on which competing species to adopt. Since the autumn sowing period, there has been an increase in sole rapeseed and cereals (wheat and barley). As the spring sowing season approaches, farmers seem to be focusing on sunflowers. Consequently, our estimate of the maize growing area in 2023 is therefore 14.1 million hectares in the EU, a reduction of 6% and at least 800,000 ha compared to 2022. This trend is most marked in grain maize, which will decline from 8% to 10% in France.

There is also a downward trend in southern Europe due to pressure on water resources, which is expected to bring about a reduction in maize growing areas by 10% in Italy and 6% in Spain. In central Europe, maize growing areas will be reduced by at least 5% in Poland and 10% in Hungary and Romania. Maize silage areas will also be slightly down, notably in Germany, in line with the reduction in livestock and decline in the use of silage maize in biogas plants. In France, maize silage will fall by around 2% due to the reduction in livestock. Outside the EU, maize growing areas are again expected to decrease significantly in the Ukraine. Following a difficult harvest in 2022, and a lack of funds, grain maize could fall by almost 25% in that country. In Russia, grain growing areas are also expected to decline slightly. Maize growing areas are expected to be relatively stable in Belarus and in decline in Serbia. One exception to the overall reduction in maize growing areas in 2023 is Turkey, where a significant increase is expected, as a replacement for cotton crops, which have become less attractive.

Maize seeds: production in the field for the 2024 supplies

In a situation of reduced demand for grain maize and maize silage seeds in 2023, those involved in varietal creation and seed production are working to ensure sufficient supplies to cover demand, in both volume and quality terms. France is the leading producer of maize seeds in Europe and the leading exporter worldwide. Given the expected decline in the market in 2023, and local tensions over water resources, the multiplication programme could decrease lightly, by up to -7%, but is expected to remain high, at around 78,000 ha. In Romania, the EU’s second largest producer, a decline seems to be on the way, by up to -6%, with estimated growing areas of 29,000 to 30,000 ha. We can also see a -6% downward trend in Hungary, , with an estimated area of 25,000 to 26,000 ha. At EU level overall, the production plan is expected to fall by 8%, or around 160,000 to 165,000 ha. Outside the EU, there is an upward trend in the “Black Sea” zone. We therefore estimate a +22% increase in planned production in Ukraine, with a total area planted of around 36,000 ha. We should recall that, since 2021, Ukraine has benefited from “equivalence” of its maize seed production for the supply of EU markets. In Russia, the expected rise in production brings total estimated production close to 39,000 ha, most of which will be used to supply the local market. The forecast rise in Turkish production is in the region of +12%. In Serbia, on the other hand, scheduled production is expected to fall by -5%.

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