1 August 1997

Cloud is hanging over French quality wheat

CONCERN for the supply of quality wheats in France is growing, according to a Lille-based plant breeder.

Unusual sprouting in the south of the country, a general swing to feed varieties and strong demand from millers and exporters suggest premiums for high quality grain should be good this year, says Francois Desprez of Florimond Desprez.

Heavy rain in June induced rare sprouting in a key southern milling variety, Recital, notes Mr Desprez.

The firms own milling variety Soissons remains market leader, he says. But whereas it once accounted for 40% of French wheat production that share has slipped to about 25% as growers have switched to higher yielding feed types such as Tremie. "The market for feed wheats has been increasing.

"Our wheat board and French millers fear there may be a lack of good quality wheat. There is already demand for exports to Italy and Spain."

With wheat harvest in the north of the country a week later than normal, mainly because of a cold wet June, worries over quality are said to be increasing. "We could get sprouting in northern parts of France too."