Water shortages in southern Spain are expected to severely limit crops in Seville
Significant shifts towards Indica production are expected in Portugal and Italy.
About 80% of the harvest in Greece by 2021 will be Japanese.
Crops across the European continent were nearly complete by the end of May due to concerns about dry weather and expectations of an upward shift in indica production in some markets.
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Continent-wide production is expected to pick up in 2021, with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasting a 0.7% year-on-year increase in harvested area to 423,000 hectares, and ground rice production will also grow 1.4% in annualized rate up to 2 million tons. … Most of the expansion is expected to come from Italian and Portuguese farmers.
Ahead of the start of planting in Italy, Ente Risi Nazionale (ENR) forecasts a total planted area of 229,300 hectares, up 0.9% from last year. The initial data assumed that in 2021 the area planted for round crops will decrease by 13% year on year to 58,700 hectares. At the same time, ENR also predicts that the cultivated area of Indica will increase by 14% to 48,000 hectares.
However, given this survey, conducted in February before Indica peaked in prices amid concerns about continent-wide shortages and while farmers have not yet purchased seed, overall it is expected that the decline in round grain and the growth of Indica is likely to be sharper than originally predicted. A roughly 20% year-on-year increase is also expected for risotto varieties – Arborio and Carnaroli – are also expected.
While no major concerns were raised during planting, one major factory raised concerns about dry weather in April, and a broker reported sub-average temperatures and windy conditions causing problems and delays during planting. However, assuming a normal summer, this broker predicted the harvest to start around September 20-25, only slightly delayed compared to the usual start in mid-September.
Although there was no official information at the end of May, the Portuguese mill reported that planting started early and “generally went quite well” under favorable weather conditions. In 2020, the country was plagued by water availability issues that severely limited domestic production. However, the mill said that “most” of these issues had been resolved – “only a small area in the southern region had some minor restrictions, but nothing important.”
The Portuguese mill also noted that there is likely to be a “significant” shift away from Japanese production due to the high prices that farmers have been able to achieve in Europe for indica paddy this year. Although indica production in Portugal usually accounts for about 5% of total production, this source predicts that indica accounted for 20-30% of the cultivated area this year.
The Greek factory also reported that planting continued at the end of May, “but without problems.” As in other countries, indica production is expected to rise. The mill said the change was “not that big, about 10%,” and it is expected that about 80% of the Greek crop will continue to be Japonica.
Despite reports by the USDA of a largely flat year-on-year harvest, a large mill in the Spanish heart of Seville said “the situation is really bad.” In some parts of the region, water is available only for planting 30% of the crop, and at best, the region sows 50% of the fields. Although the region is better known for producing indica than Japanese because of the climatic conditions, the mill added that “almost 100% will be produced in Puntal. [grain] fig. “
A European broker agreed that a decrease in rainfall in recent months is likely to limit crops in southern Spain, predicting that only 30% will be planted in some areas, but this could increase if rains start. The source added that the rest of the country will plant as usual, “with a slight delay (about 20 days)”, without any major production changes in the Seville or Valencia area between Japan and Indica.
In the four main rice producing countries in Europe, there is a mixed crop picture. In all countries except Spain, there is a significant shift towards indica production at the expense of Japanese, especially in Portugal and Italy. While some inconveniences in planting were reported in other countries, only Spain could record a significant decline in production, especially in the south of the country. However, three months before the harvest begins on the continent, there is plenty of time for luck to change.