Spain: Winter grain harvest, 50% more than in 2019
Early estimates for autumn-winter cereal production point to near 23 million tons, an increase of more than 50% over last year. However, COVID-19 is producing an indirect price crisis.
The cooperatives’ association has estimated record average yields of around 4,500 kg/ha for wheat and somewhat higher for barley. Damage from wildlife (hunting has been forbidden because of the lockdown) and the effects of diseases such as wheat scurvy have lowered its initial forecasts. It should be remembered that for this association, their first estimate indicates that they will reach 25.8 million tons.
Negative COVID-19 effects on the markets
Despite a harvest recording record yields and productions, farmers are concerned about price evolution in the markets. Prices have been falling for the last two months to figures not seen in recent years.
The main cause of this decline is the indirect impact of the pandemic on cereal marketing. Although at the beginning of the lockdown, sales grew due to fears of shortages and uncertainty about the closure of borders, in addition to growth in flour and pulses sales, this trend changed sharply once the markets stabilized.
The prospect of a good harvest, both domestic and international, the abundant pasture that reduces feed consumption for livestock and the degree of supply to consumers have added pressure to the indirect impact of the virus. The disease has generated a lower consumption of food (especially from the Horeca channel and, in perspective, due to less tourism) whether destined for human or animal consumption. Similarly, the collapse of oil prices has reduced the price of cereals such as corn, which is used in considerable quantities for ethanol production, and this has had repercussions on other secondary grains such as barley.
With similar sowing areas to previous years (5.47 million hectares of winter cereals), the farmers’ association ASAJA's production estimates are as follows: 9.8 million tons of barley; 7.2 million tons of wheat (6.5 million tons of common wheat and the rest of durum wheat); 1 million tons of oats and 1.1 million tons of rye and triticale. This gives 19.15 million tons of winter cereals, to which must be added 3.5 million tons of maize. Yields will be higher than last year, which was a very short harvest (14.8 million tons of winter cereals).
Spain is a deficit country in cereals, mainly due to its relevant swine sector. Depending on the results of the domestic grain harvest, average cereal imports are around 18-20 million tons per year.