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Strategie Grains sees EU rapeseed area expanding further in 2023/24

By Sybille de La Hamaide

PARIS, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Crop consultancy Strategie Grains expects the area sown with rapeseed in the European Union to expand next season after high prices encouraged farmers to sow more of the oilseed and crops started in good conditions.

In its first estimate for the 2023/24 marketing season, Strategie Grains put the harvestable area in the EU at 6.0 million hectares, up 2.4% from the current season.

The area sown with rapeseed - mainly used to make cooking oil, animal feed and biodiesel - had already grown more than 10% this season. Combined with a good average yield, the 2022 crop rose nearly 15% to 19.5 million tonnes.

"Rapeseed is quite attractive for farmers at present, and rainfall before and after planting time has been quite good," Strategie Grains said in a report.

European rapeseed prices have come off the record levels set earlier this year in the wake of the war in Ukraine, a major rapeseed producer, but have remained well above average.

The area was expected to increase mainly in Western Europe, but the consultancy noted that pest issues needed to be monitored in France after a particularly warm autumn.

In other oilseeds, Strategie Grains also expects large areas of sunflower seeds and soybeans to be sown in the EU next spring.

"Those two crops have a good economic profitability and are favoured in crop rotations because of their lower need for inputs compared to the rival crops ... a key factor in a context of high prices of inputs and phytosanitary products," it said.

The EU area sown with sunflower seeds for the 2023 harvest was expected to be close to the record set in 2022/23 at 5.1 million hectares while the soybean area would hit a new record of 1.11 million hectares, up 3% from this season.

Strategie Grains only marginally raised its estimate for the rapeseed harvest for the current season, while slightly cutting the sunflower seed and soybean crop estimates, both expected to be more than 10% below last year's harvest at 9.2 million tonnes and 2.4 million tonnes respectfully.

"The sunseed and soybean harvests were disappointing. Penalised by unfavourable summer weather (excessive heat and lack of rain)," it said in a report.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Paul Simao)

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