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French wheat protein slips further in latest harvest results

PARIS, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Nearly complete quality results from France's soft wheat harvest showed slightly weaker protein levels than in initial samples, underscoring a decline compared with last year, according to data from farm office FranceAgriMer on Thursday.

For protein, 27% of soft wheat analysed so far came below 11% content, often a minimum standard for milling markets, compared with 24% in initial results published last week by FranceAgriMer with crop institute Arvalis.

Last year, just 5% of the soft wheat crop showed protein below 11%.

The latest survey results for protein covered 95% of expected samples nationwide, compared with 76% in the first assessment last week.

The updated results showed 31% of soft wheat with 11-11.5% protein, against a 33% share last week, and 23% of the crop at 11.5-12%, unchanged from the previous week.

Some 19% of soft wheat was showing protein at 12% and above, against 20% in last week's results.

FranceAgriMer had pointed previously to mixed protein readings for soft wheat in major northern production zones.

Traders, meanwhile, have reported large sales of lower-protein French wheat to China this summer, contributing to a brisk start to the export season in the European Union's biggest wheat-producing country.

For test weights, another key criteria in milling, the updated survey results were slightly higher than the previous week, confirming a recovery from last year's rain-affected levels.

Some 87% of the crop analysed so far was above the 76 kilo per hectolitre level widely used as a milling standard, compared with 85% a week earlier and just 31% in last year's harvest.

For Hagberg falling numbers, 96% of the crop volumes assessed so far were showing readings above 240 seconds, unchanged from the previous week and compared with just over half last year.

FranceAgriMer is due to issue final quality results, including national averages, in the coming weeks. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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