Lots of sun, high temperatures, no rain: On the one hand people in Europe are happy about the constantly warm weather. On the other hand, many farmers are on verge of economic destruction due to the bone-dry fields. Even the grain harvest, which began a few weeks ago, has shown that some of the yields have dramatically fallen. In Lower Saxony, the yields are only going to be half of what is produced in an average year, and in the eastern German states yields are only one-third of the average. Animal feed for stockbreeding is also scarce in many parts of Northern Germany. Grass harvesting was below average in many places and corn harvests are suffering from massive drought damage.
Chart 1: Current drought situation in Germany in the topsoil to a depth of 25cm (Source: Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH – UFZ) (Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ)
The Emsland Group is also concerned about the continuing drought in the important potato growing regions of Lower Saxony, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Chart 1 shows the current drought situation in Germany. The growing regions which supply the Emsland Group with raw materials are located within the black border. There are many regions that have not experienced any significant rainfall since the end of April. “Many potato plants have hardly created any sprouts due to the stress caused by the drought. Even if these sprouts were to reach their normal size when rainfall sets in, the quantity would not be sufficient and thus the calculated yield is far from achievable,” said Sebastian Riekert of the Emsland Group's Raw Materials Purchasing Department. Although some farmers can irrigate their potatoes depending on the region, it is not possible for potatoes to grow sprouts when temperatures over 25 °C for longer periods of time. The plant will then only be kept alive by the irrigation measures.
As the main buyer of potato starch and processing potatoes in these regions, we and our growers hope for a quick change in weather conditions. Due to the anticipated crop failures, the Group is already assuming bottlenecks in its supply. Therefore, the company’s ability to properly delivery can no longer be excluded.
The drought is being felt throughout Europe
The persistently dry weather also poses a problem in whole Europe. Since months huge parts of Middle- and Eastern Europe suffer of an extreme drought. In addition to devastating forest fires, high crop losses are expected here as well.
The reason for the hot weather since spring is an area of high pressure that stretches across most of Northern Europe, from Ireland to the UK to Scandinavia. The low pressure areas containing rain and cooler air bounce off the higher pressure areas. Only on occasion were there showers. Low pressure areas around the high pressure areas have, however, brought initially unusually heavy rain to Southern Europe.