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Hot October weather left French crops fragile to frosts, institute says

PARIS, Nov 4 (Reuters) - The warmest October in 40 years in France has accelerated grain crop development so much that it has left them fragile to sudden frosts later in the season, French crop institute Arvalis warned on Friday.

Average temperatures in October were 3.3 degrees above normal at 16.3 degrees Celsius (61.34°F), Arvalis said based on data from nearly 300 weather stations, noting that these temperatures were usually seen in September.

Furthermore, France, the European Union's largest grain producer, experienced a drop in rainfall in 80% of the country, it said.

Soft wheat and winter barley crops for the 2023 harvest are running about one week ahead of the five-year average in France, farm office FranceAgrimer said on Friday.

The warm weather means winter crop leaves will grow earlier than usual and be bigger, as seen in fields that look "greener" than usual in early November, Arvalis said.

But cereals have not yet experienced the cool or even cold temperatures needed to make them hard enough to resist frosts, it said.

"The scenario to be feared would therefore be a sudden and significant drop in temperatures and a rapid arrival of severe frosts," it said in a statement. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Jason Neely)

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