Bulgarian Rapeseed Output Drops 20%


Mar 15, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

The latest Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture/Eurostat official data confirmed Rapeseed production at 300,000 MT at standard moisture content for MY2022/23. The crop was 20 percent lower than in MY2021/22 due to the same rate of reduction in average yields impacted by adverse weather upon stable area harvested. Decreased use of inputs and spring frosts affected average yields in Bulgaria. Eurostat’s final harvest data shows average yields at 2.29 MT/HA, compared with 2.87 MT/HA in the previous year.

Exports in the current MY as of the end of February were reported at 260,000 MT (Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture), of which almost 200,000 MT went to the EU market and 60,000 MT to non-EU. This is slightly more than a year ago (249,000 MT) despite lower availability stimulated by good export demand. Most of this volume (153,000 MT) was exported in the first quarter of the MY, the same as in the corresponding period in MY2021/22. The primary destinations were the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. According to AgFlow data, the Netherlands imported 70,200 tons of Rapeseeds from Bulgaria last year, followed by Belgium (60,546 tons), Spain (25,000 tons), and Germany (11,707 tons). Bulgaria shipped 12,226 tons to Romania in January. Export demand has been better than that for crush to date.

At the same time, domestic crushers have looked for more price-competitive imports to complement weaker domestic suppliers. Imports as of the end of February grew to 79,000 MT compared to 49,000 MT in the previous season, or by 61 percent. About half of these imports came from non-EU origins. Rapeseed prices have been higher in the current MY. Rapeseed has a short trading window, and no trade/market prices have been reported since October 2022.

Bulgarian Rapeseed Crops Condition

The winter Rapeseed crops have developed relatively well due to mild winter conditions in November-January. There are a few farmers reporting that select Rapeseed fields have to be reseeded due to frost/dryness. The southern part of Bulgaria had surplus rain, while the northern region had a temperature accumulation surplus. February was hot and dry. Rapeseed benefited from warmer-than-usual temperatures and good seasonal precipitation in the November-January period. These conditions allowed late-planted Rapeseed that was lagging in development to catch up and to be in good condition currently. However, due to limited snowfall, the precipitation was mainly in the form of rainfall, and in combination with warmer-than-usual weather and higher evaporation due to winter winds, resulted in lower soil moisture reserves, especially at the sub-surface level.

Drier-than-usual conditions with precipitation anomalies of half the average norm or more were observed in the southeastern part of Bulgaria and along the Black Sea coast. Overall, MY2022/23 precipitation is significantly lower than in the previous MY. Although Rapeseed has developed well so far, there is a severe risk to spring development when the crop’s water needs increase. In addition, there is a risk to the spring planting conditions for sunflowers if there are insufficient rainfalls in March/April to recover low soil moisture reserves.

Unlike in the previous season, Rapeseed was planted in the optimal time window due to rains in the August/September period and promised an excellent start to the new crop. Farmers reduced area under Rapeseed for two reasons: increasing pressure from pests due to the EU ban on neonicotinoids, and the limited marketing window. In early 2023, the authorities recognized the need for a derogation of neonicotinoids and granted a limited derogation for select crops and regions, supported unanimously by the farm industry. However, the derogation did not include the Rapeseed crop.

Other sources: USDA

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