PARIS (Reuters) - Strategie Grains cut its forecasts for this year's European Union sunflower seed and soybean crops, citing damage inflicted by recent dry and hot weather, while raising its rapeseed outlook thanks to a better than expected harvest.
In an oilseed report, the consultancy lowered by nearly 1.2 million tonnes its EU sunflower seed crop forecast to 9.17 million tonnes, down 11.3% from last year despite a sharp rise in the area sown.
For soybeans, the consultancy lowered its 2022 EU production forecast to 2.49 million tonnes from 2.78 million, now 7.3% below last year's level.
"For sunseed and soybean ... the extremely hot, dry weather of the last few weeks has reduced yield potentials in most of the major European producer countries," the consultancy said.
Crop forecasters have repeatedly reduced projections for EU summer crops, which also include maize, as worsening drought and successive heatwaves in major producing countries such as France, Romania and Hungary have strained plants during their crucial growth period.
For rapeseed, the EU's main oilseed crop, Strategie Grains raised its estimate of this year's harvest to 19.15 million tonnes from the 18.47 million tonnes forecast previously, now 12.7% above last year's level.
"Oilseed rape has enjoyed good growing conditions this season in most European production zones and harvest results are even better than expected," Strategie Grains said.
On the demand side, the consultancy raised its rapeseed and sunseed import forecasts, citing dynamic Ukrainian exports by land routes and expectations that sunseed exports would benefit from the secure maritime corridor set up under a U.N.-brokered grain export deal.
The EU rapeseed balance sheet is now expected to be balanced at the end of the season while the outlook for sunseed is tight, it added.
(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by David Goodman)