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UPDATE 1-France lifts 2017 maize, sugar beet crop estimates, cuts wheat again
* Farm ministry puts sugar beet crop at record 45.8 mln T
* Grain maize crop raised to 14.3 mln T on yield revision
* Soft wheat crop now seen at 36.6 mln T after area cut
* Ministry trims 2018 winter wheat, rapeseed area (Combines production and area stories, adds detail)
PARIS, Feb 13 (Reuters) - France's farm ministry further increased its estimates of last year's sugar beet and grain maize crops to reflect bumper yields, but revised down soft wheat output again due to a reduction in the harvested area.
In a crop report published on Tuesday, the ministry pegged 2017 sugar beet production at a record 45.8 million tonnes, up from 45.0 million estimated in December and now 32 percent above the 2016 volume.
The average 2017 yield was increased to 94.2 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) from 93.0 t/ha previously and up from 85.5 t/ha in 2016, while the crop area was increased marginally to 486,000 hectares, confirming a jump from 405,000 hectares in 2016.
A big sugar beet crop had been widely anticipated after growers increased plantings ahead of the scrapping of EU production quotas, but forecasters have steadily increased production estimates as harvest results showed strong yields.
The farm ministry also raised again its estimate of 2017 grain maize production, excluding seeds, putting the crop at 14.3 million tonnes compared with 13.7 million previously as it increased the estimated average yield to 10.4 t/ha from 10.0 t/ha previously.
The latest revision brought the ministry in line with market estimates that have factored in very high harvest yields.
Soft wheat output, however, was cut for a third time in a row. The 2017 crop is now seen at 36.6 million tonnes, down from 37.0 million in December and well below the 37.9 million the ministry saw in October in its highest estimate of last year's harvest.
The production downgrade reflected a reduction in the harvested area to 4.97 million hectares from 5.03 million.
The revision followed an annual review by the ministry of declarations by farmers, which can lead to adjustments in crop area.
The reduced soft wheat crop estimate was nonetheless 33 percent above a very poor 2016 level.
The revised wheat and maize production estimates will have a bearing on updated 2017/18 cereal supply and demand forecasts to be released on Wednesday by farming agency FranceAgriMer.
The ministry also revised area estimates for winter crops sown for the 2018 harvest.
It cut its estimate of the 2018 winter rapeseed area to 1.50 million hectares from its initial estimate of 1.54 million in December, although this was up 6.7 percent from 2017.
The winter soft wheat area was trimmed to 4.96 million hectares from 5.03 million, but was still marginally above the revised 2017 area excluding spring wheat.
Winter barley sowings for 2018 were raised to 1.37 million hectares from 1.36 million but were down 2 percent on the year. (Reporting by Valerie Parent and Gus Trompiz; Editing by Sybille de La Hamaide and Susan Fenton)
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