REFILE-UPDATE 1-Too early to call frost damage on grains but concern grows -FranceAgriMer

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PARIS, April 14 (Reuters) - It is too early to estimate the impact on grain crops from a severe frost that has hit France but there is some concern over damage in the central and southern parts of the country, farm office FranceAgriMer said on Wednesday.

Temperatures have fallen well below zero for several nights in a row in many parts of France, the EU's top grain producer, causing major damages to vineyards, orchards and sugar beet and prompting the government to promise financial aid.

"In the north and the far-east there will certainly be some damage locally but we hope it will be marginal," Benoit Pietrement, head of FranceAgriMer's crop committee told reporters.

"We are more worried for the large plain of the Beauce/Val-de-Loire where crops were more developed and the cold snap was maybe more severe than in the east."

In supply and demand estimates, FranceAgriMer raised its forecast of French soft wheat exports outside the European Union's 27 countries to 7.55 million tonnes from 7.45 million tonnes seen last month, to take account of previous sales and expected demand from Algeria and Africa.

That was still 44% below a record 13.54 million tonnes in 2019/20.

Meanwhile, sales within the EU were projected at 5.6 million tonnes, down from 5.8 million seen in March, mainly due to strong competition from German wheat in the northern part of the bloc.

The opposing moves meant that FranceAgriMer kept its forecast for soft wheat stocks at the end of the 2020/21 season nearly unchanged at 2.7 million tonnes.

The office also kept its forecast for barley ending stocks nearly unchanged at 1.1 million tonnes, while maize ending stocks were still expected at 2.0 million tonnes due to small adjustments in the supply and demand balance sheet. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Forrest Crellin and Alison Williams)

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