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Drought-hit rapeseed sowing to keep 2019 EU crop at low level -analyst

PARIS, Dec 3 (Reuters) - A sharp drop in the rapeseed area due to drought could keep European Union production of the oilseed in 2019 close to a disappointing volume harvested this year, said consultancy Strategie Grains.

In its first production outlook for next year's harvest, the French-based firm projected EU rapeseed output at 20.0 million tonnes. That was just above an estimated 19.83 million this year, which was nearly 11 percent below the 2017 level.

An expected decline next year in the area of about 12 percent to 6.07 million hectares was slightly outweighed by a preliminary projection that the yield would rise about 14 percent to 3.30 tonnes per hectare, added Strategie Grains said in a monthly oilseed report.

The yield forecast for next year was based on a long-term trend and compared with a weather-hit 2018 yield of 2.89 tonnes per hectare, it said.

The 2019 area forecast was reduced from 6.22 million hectares estimated a month ago, which was already below Strategie Grains' initial area projection of 6.32 million.

Rapeseed sowing in late summer and early autumn was severely disrupted by drought, adding to difficulties for EU farmers after parched conditions already cut this year's harvests.

The rapeseed area would decline particularly in Germany and France, the EU's two largest producers of the oilseed, Strategie Grains said, echoing comments by other crop analysts. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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