Variable weather has led to Strategie Grains reducing their EU grain production estimate for 2006/07 by 10.5m tonnes, of which 5.8m tonnes is wheat.

The heatwave in July affected yield potential across Europe, particularly in France and Germany (down 2.1m tonnes each), as well as in Poland, Finland, Austria and Sweden.

Rainfall in August has interrupted the harvest, causing rising concerns for crop quality.

The French wheat harvest is 90% complete, and Strategie Grains sees yields of 6.98t/ha (7.18t/ha in 2005/06).

So far quality is reportedly good, but rain in August could affect the north where the harvest is not yet complete.

In Germany wheat harvest is more than 75% complete, but has been hit by rain.

Average yields are expected to be lower at 6.96t/ha compared with 7.47t/ha in 2005/06.

The harvest in Denmark has also been disrupted by rain, with up to 55% of the wheat still to cut. Strategie Grains reports lower yields so far than last year.

The Spanish agriculture ministry sees wheat output at 3.9m tonnes, (2.6m tonnes last year).

In Portugal, the wheat crop is seen at about 250,000t, up from just 80,000t due to the severe drought last year.

Hungary’s harvest is almost complete.

The Agriculture Ministry says wheat yields are 8% lower than last year, winter barley 2% lower and spring barley down 11%.

In the Czech Republic, more than 40% of wheat has been cut and winter barley is almost complete.

The Agriculture Ministry says winter wheat yields are 4.85t/ha (6% below last year) and 4t/ha for winter barley (-9%).

But both the heatwave in July and the recent rainfall have affected the crop quality, with much of it not expected to be of bread-making specification.