THE area of hybrid wheats in France is predicted to double, according to its largest hybrid wheat breeder, Hybrinova. Last year 7,000ha (17,300 acres) of the companys four different hybrids were grown. Thats 60% of the entire hybrid market. This autumn Hybrinova expect twice the area.
The top seller is Hyno-Precia, sown on over 5,000ha (12,355 acres) which beat conventional varieties by more than 12% yield in three separate French regions.
When yields were measured in trials against top bread wheats, the Precia type scored 113.3% of the average in Poitou, 112.4% compared with early wheats in the north of the country and 112% in the central region. Top average yield in official French trials this harvest for the hybrid line was 10.5t/ha (4.25t/acre).
FARMLAND prices in Germany last year fell by 4.5% compared with 1995 to the equivalent of £7,010/ha (£2,837/acre). The drop hides a huge difference between the land price situation in what was once West Germany and in the former communist lands to the east of the country.
In the west, demand for land continues to fall by about 1% annually. But the price per hectare in 1996 was just short of £11,000/ha (£4,445/acre). In contrast land prices in the east average £2,620/ha (£1,060/acre) – 8% down.
A SWING to producing more home-grown forage and protein for livestock, in France, saw a 10% increase in the amount of silage maize grown .
While the areas down to feed cereals remained reasonably stable compared with the previous year, feed protein legumes soared by 12.5% to an estimated 2,922m tonnes in 1997. Some of this rise was caused by a general increase in pea and bean yields with crops averaging 4.86t/ha (1.97t/acre) compared with 4.79t/ha (1.94t/acre) in 1996. Combining peas remain the dominant legume with an estimated harvest of 2,876m tonnes.
More feed protein is also coming from soyabeans grown in France. This harvest is expected to be 270,000t this year compared with the 1996 harvest of 230,000t.
THE number of biodiesel (RME) filling stations in Germany has now exceeded 700 and some regions are changing the public-owned country bus fleets over to the natural oilseed fuel.
The Rhineland Palatinate in the south west of the country is one area where so far the equivalent of £1m has been spent in the promotion and development of the natural fuel. A new biodiesel-fuelled bus fleet is to run through the wine growing region in the Moselle valley. Rhineland Palatinate now has a total of 15 biodiesel filling stations throughout the region.
THE RUSSIAN wheat harvest has been safely brought-in from at least 92% of the state-owned cereal farms. Overall cereal yield for the country has been estimated at 67.5m tonnes, an increase of 16% on the previous year. The 1996 harvest is believed to have averaged only 1.67t/ha (14cwt/acre) while this year the average return cleaned and dried per hectare has been estimated at just under 2t/ha.
THE NUMBER of Spanish farm businesses has dropped by 7.6% between 1993 and 1995, according to the Ministry of Agriculture in Madrid. The current total of mostly family farms is now around 1.3m. Where the average size of unit in 1993 was 17.85ha (44 acres), this had risen to 19.74ha (48.7acres) by the end of 1995.
Market watchers say the trend to fewer and larger farms is increasing, not least because of heavy financial losses caused by flooding in 1996 and extreme drought in some areas this year.