Heatwave threat to European crop

Concern is growing over the anticipated loss of yield for crops across the EU, after the recent hot, dry weather.

This week Strategie Grains lowered its EU grain production estimate by 2.3m tonnes, due to grain scald caused by the high temperatures.

The main countries with reduced yield potential are France, where about 10% of the wheat crop has been harvested; Germany, where the winter barley harvest is under way and wheat expected to begin soon; and Hungary, where the wheat harvest is expected to begin mid-July.

In Spain, about 40% of the barley has been cut and about 25% of the wheat, and a good quality soft wheat crop of about 4.1m tonnes is expected (2.6m tonnes in 2005).

With the wheat harvest 90% complete in Italy, Strategie Grains expects average yields at 5.33t/ha (5.45t/ha in 2005). But the quality of the crop is thought to be poorer than last year.

The barley harvest is now under way in the UK and yields are expected to be reasonable, although concern is growing due to the recent heat, which is beginning to affect crops in some regions where ADAS reports soil moisture is low.

The recent hot weather has also affected crops in eastern Europe, with the Czech Republic’s grain production estimate at 6.3m tonnes – almost 10% lower than 2005 – and a 14% fall in production in Slovakia to 2.2m tonnes.

But in Poland the heatwave is not seen as causing significant damage to the wheat crop, which is expected at about 26m tonnes.

The Hungarian wheat harvest began mid-July, and early estimates see wheat yielding about 4.3t/ha.

However, the recent hot weather is thought to have affected crop quality.

About two-thirds of the barley crop, which was less affected by the heat, has been cut so far.