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German grains crop better than feared after heatwave, says farm ministry

HAMBURG, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Germany’s grain and rapeseed harvest is better than expected after a heatwave and drought but damage is expected to maize (corn) and sugar beet crops, the German agriculture ministry estimated on Friday.

Farmers were able to gather good wheat and rapeseed crops after they ripened early in the hot summer. But the grain maize crop, used for animal feed, is expected to decline sharply because of the heat and lack of rain.

Europe is facing its worst drought in about 500 years, with crops in several countries suffering, especially maize.

German agriculture minister Cem Oezdemir said the climate crisis was visible in German farming.

“The harvest has shown very different results according to region and crop types,” the ministry report said. "For winter crops such as wheat and rapeseed, which could be harvested early, it is looking unexpectedly good.”

Germany's 2022 winter wheat crop is expected to rise 4.6% on 2021 to a little more than 22 million tonnes, the ministry estimated. Average protein content is 11.8%, down from 12.7% last year.

Germany’s 2022 winter rapeseed harvest will increase 22.3% from 2021 to almost 4.3 million tonnes, which the ministry said would be pleasing in light of the hot weather.

The grain maize crop is forecast to fall 21.5% on the year to about 3.5 million tonnes.

Despite lost maize, Germany’s total cereals crop is forecast to rise 2% year on year to about 43.2 million tonnes, it said.

Germany is the European Union’s second-largest wheat producer behind France and often the EU’s largest producer of rapeseed, Europe’s main oilseed for edible oil and biodiesel production.

Germany’s sugar beet crop is also suspected to have suffered stress from heat and dryness, but the ministry gave no harvest estimate. (Reporting by Michael Hogan Editing by David Goodman)

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