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UPDATE 2-EU slashes maize crop forecast again, increases wheat harvest estimate

(Adds oilseed estimates, background on maize)

By Gus Trompiz

PARIS, Aug 25 (Reuters) - The European Commission on Thursday cut its forecast for this year's maize harvest in the European Union by 10%, the second steep cut in a row amid severe drought.

The Commission reduced its projection of usable maize (corn) production in the EU in 2022/23 to 59.3 million tonnes, down from 65.8 million expected a month ago.

It would be the smallest harvest in seven years.

Maize crops have endured heatwaves and what is expected to be Europe's worst drought in at least 500 years.

The Commission had already lowered its maize harvest forecast by nearly 6 million tonnes, or 8%.

The Commission did not refer to weather conditions but said the reduced maize outlook mainly reflected lower yield projections for Romania, France, Bulgaria and Hungary.

The Commission's latest outlook was still higher than some market estimates, although traders say showers and cooler temperatures since mid-August may avert further yield losses.

The smaller crop led the Commission to raise its forecast of EU maize imports in the 2022/23 season to 20 million tonnes from 16.5 million expected a month ago, and to lower projected EU maize exports to 4 million from 5 million tonnes.

In contrast, the EU's executive raised its forecast for EU usable production of common wheat, or soft wheat, to 126.0 million tonnes from 123.9 million tonnes projected in late July.

Projected EU soft wheat exports were unchanged at 36 million tonnes, leading the Commission to increase its forecast for end-of-season stocks by 2 million tonnes to 15.7 million.

In oilseeds, the Commission lowered again its forecast of the EU's sunflower seed harvest, to 9.9 million tonnes from 10.5 million, reflecting weather damage like in maize.

For rapeseed, estimated 2022/23 production was revised up to 18.8 million tonnes from 18.0 million forecast last month. (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Lisa Shumaker)

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