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The Maize Market & Economy > Seed Maize

Production Figures

 Seed Maize Production in France

Ever since seed maize was first grown in France in the 1950s, it has continued to expand, supporting the development of grain maize and silage maize.
Annual acreage averages approximately 47 000 hectares, and 2008 has set a new record at 55 800 hectares.  These figures are achieved through a combination of factors:  production contingencies in Europe in both 2006 and 2007, substantial drops in stocks, market growth and economic conditions boosting the grain maize market.

Seed maize is grown in the same regions where grain maize is farmed, in particular the following three regions:
- South-West (Aquitaine & Midi-Pyrenees) — 60% of France’s acreage
- West (Pays de la Loire, Centre & Poitou-Charentes) — 20% of France’s acreage
- South-East and Limagne — 20% of France’s acreage.

French seed producers have achieved top technical standards, making it possible to grow a large number of varieties (just under 1 800);  half of these are grown on less than 10 hectares, and 8% on more than 100 hectares, adding up to 50% of all seed acreage.  This production capacity is a great asset boosting business life cycles which are shorter and shorter for the different varieties.

 The Economic Importance of the Seed Maize Sector

In financial terms, the seed maize sector generates annual sales of €640 million and is the leading sector with one-third of the sales figure for the entire seed sector (cereals, maize and sorghum, feed grain, beet, potato, oilseed and fibres, vegetables and flowers).
The same position as leader is found on the ranking for foreign trade where the maize seed sector accounts for 36% of imports (of all species), and 43% of exports, making up 52% of the positive trade balance.  France is not only the European leader in maize seed production, but it is also a hub for international trade.

 Production Essential to the World Market

Every year France sells from 11 to 12 million units of seed (mesuring 50 000 seeds each), including 50% on the export market, ranking France as the world’s leading export country for maize seed.  The European Union is the leading buyer, in particular northern European countries.
Seed-breeders earmark 10% of their annual sales income for research to maintain their competitive edge, and with this investment some 100 new varieties of maize are registered in France every year.

 Markets Using Maize Seed Grown in France

94 % of exports are sold in the 27-European Union, mainly to Germany and the Benelux countries with 52 % of exports. 

Poland, with 4 % of exports for 50 % of the market share held by the ten News Member States that joined the European Union in 2004.

Third countries already account for 6 % of French exports and these markets will undoubtedly expand in the near future. Ukraine is the largest importer, with 27 000 qa year, followed by Bulgaria and Romania. Other countries imoprting French seed include Albania, Turkey, Morocco, Canada, the USA, Argentina, Chile, Japan, Senegal.  

 Countries Producing Seed Maize in Europe and the World

To meet the demand from seed users around the world, different seed-growing areas have been established, forming a total of about 800 000 hectares planted with seed maize.

The main production area is in the USA with some 300 000 hectares, i.e. 38% of total world acreage.  However, 90% of US-grown seed is used domestically by the maize growers who farm more than 36 million hectares of grain and silage maize.

The second seed maize production area is the 27-member European Union with 90 000 hectares, i.e. 10% of total world acreage.  The top two countries account for 80% of this acreage in the 27-member European Union:  France has 48% of the acreage and Hungary 27%.

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