How has this year’s extreme weather affected European crops?
In recent months, exceptionally hot, dry weather conditions have led to droughts in many European countries. According to forecasts, this has severely affected crops in some areas.
According to a report released by the crop monitoring service MARS – part of the European Commission’s scientific research centre – yield prospects have been reduced significantly.
Europe has been hit by more record-breaking heatwaves in the last few years, and this year saw several major wildfires in France, Spain, Greece, and Italy.
Temperatures in August were 2-4 degrees celsius above the average for the period 1991 to 2021 across most of Europe, with temperatures particularly high in southwestern France, Italy, the western Balkans, and the Iberian Peninsula.
Additionally, droughts have had a huge effect on yields. In some regions, there’s already a shortfall of rainfall; but this year, some areas experienced the lowest levels in 30 years.
What are the forecasts for crop yields?
In July, the European Commission predicted that there would be a decline in cereal production as adverse weather conditions started to hit parts of the EU.
This latest report shows that the prediction was correct. According to the forecasts, corn yields could drop by 16% this year compared to the five-year average.
In France, corn production has fallen by 11% compared to the five-year average and 19% compared to 2022.
Sunflower seeds production is expected to fall by 7.9% compared to the five-year average – 20% lower than in 2021.
This change has been blamed partly on droughts and water restrictions. Many crops planted during the spring have been damaged beyond repair, mainly maize, which needs irrigation.
However, the report also notes that dry conditions have benefitted winter crops like barley, rapeseed, and weed, and there could be a slight improvement in yield forecasts for these crops.
The report says that the long-term weather forecast for September, October, and November suggests that “warmer-than-normal conditions are likely to prevail over much of Europe.”