BERLIN (Commodity Online) : Wheat production in Germany, Europe's second largest producer, is expected to fall this season due to wet weather conditions.

According to DRV farm co-operatives association, German winter wheat harvest, essentially all the crop, will fall by 1.3% to 24.59 million tones.

The DRV currently expects no record harvest, but good average yields, the co-operative said.

The slide, which goes against the forecast trend of a small rise in EU wheat production, reflects in part poor weather in Germany.

While crops had sufficient snow cover to avoid significant winterkill, yields may suffer after wet conditions prevented farmers from making fertilizer applications.

Furthermore, many grain growers have spurned sowing feed crops to planting better-quality crops which often produce lower yields.

The decline reflects a change in the EU regime of intervention buying, which is withdrawing support from all but a core of crops.

Indeed, Germany's production of barley, which will lose entitlement to intervention buying, will slump by some 15% to 10.45m tonnes this year.The overall grain harvest will drop by some 8% to 46m tonnes.

Separately, Italy, one of Europe's biggest grain buyers, said that its imports of cereals rose 6.2% to 10.78m tonnes last year.

The rise was led by a 28% jump to 2.14m tonnes in foreign purchases of durum, the type of wheat used in making pasta, Anacer, the Italian cereals body, said.

Soft wheat imports rose by 13% to 4.20 million tonnes.

Anacer gave no explanation for the increases. The data follows a steep drop in January in official forecasts for Italy's corn and wheat production.