The expectations were reported by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) using satellite remote sensing and mathematical models to predict crop growth. Wheat According to the forecast, the bloc's total wheat yield, including both Durum and soft wheat, is expected to exceed last year's crop by 1.5 per cent, equivalent to about six mega tonnes. This also equate to a 2.3 per cent increase on the five year average yield for the area. Increased yields from Spain, Italy and France for Durum wheat will exceed the five year average, while Austria and Bulgaria are predicted to have yield decreases. Concerning soft wheat yield, a ten per cent reduction is forecasted for Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, with very dry and hot weather starting in May blamed for the loss of production. Spain again comes through to with yield and production increases, with an 18.7 per cent increase forecast, compared to 2006. Barley The EU 27's barley yield is also forecast to beat the five year average by 3.4 per cent. However, yield increases are down on 2006 when a 6.8 per cent rise was recorded. "The main country contributing to the overall positive yield expectations is Spain, the third largest (beside Germany and France) barley producer. In contrast to last year Spain experienced a favourable season," stated the commission in a release. The bloc's biggest producer Germany is forecast to have an increase of 4.5 per cent compared to the average of the last five years. A hot and dry spring and early summer in Romania and Bulgaria is again expected to have a detrimental effect on the countries' yields, with Bulgaria forecasted to have yield of 2.4 t/ha compared to 2.94 t/ha in 2006 and Romania to have a yield of 1.85 t/ha compared to 2.33 t/ha in 2006. Maize A slight decrease in maize yield across the EU 27 is estimated (0.8 per cent) compared to the five years average, stated the JRC. For the two largest producers France and Italy yield forecasts shows a clear increase with 8.91 t/ha for France, compared to 8.55 in 2006, and with 9.52 t/ha for Italy compared to 8.73 in 2006. Due to area reduction the production is stable compared to last year. "Romania and Hungary as the other two main producers of grain maize face difficulties due to the hot and dry season. For Hungary yield expectations are lowered by 17.3 per cent compared to the last year and the production loss is estimated to 15.2 per cent compared to the last year but only to 1.5 per cent compared to the five years average," stated the release. Rice Rice production is expected to be higher than average with good forecasts set Italy, France and Greece.