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Cooperative Axereal says French grain harvest decent, quality excellent

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A French farmer displays grains of wheat in Vieillevigne

PARIS (Reuters) - This year's winter grain crops in France show excellent quality levels and yields within average but results are very heterogeneous, Axereal, one of France's largest grain cooperatives, said on Thursday.

Grain production in France, the European Union's biggest grower, is expected to fall this year after harsh weather hurt crops in some areas.

The harvest of winter grains, such as wheat, barley, rapeseed and durum, was about to end with nearly two weeks in advance, Axereal said.

"The results at this stage are within a decent average and generally show very good quality, in line with the expectations of customers in our French and international sectors," Axereal Chairman Jean-Francois Loiseau said in a statement.

Axereal pegged this year's grain yields within olympic averages, calculated while removing the high and low values. It did not give average levels per cereal.

Soft wheat protein levels - a key quality requirement - were "satisfactory" at an average 11.9%, Axereal said.

That was above crop institute Arvalis' projection at the start of July of an average protein level in France of 11.6%.

Some spring crops, which mainly include maize (corn) and sunflower, could start being harvested nearly a month in advance, with the sunflower harvest expected to start at the end of August, Axereal said.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Jason Neely)

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