Drought drags in Europe, maize crops suffer

Lower production means more costly imports
calendar icon 29 July 2022
clock icon 3 minute read

More dry and hot weather expected in the coming weeks in key European maize growing regions is expected to cause further damage to crops already stressed by a dry spring and sweltering temperatures earlier this month, reported Reuters, citing experts.

A lower maize (corn) harvest in the European Union would mean more imports into the bloc at a time when shipments out of its main supplier Ukraine are hampered by the war with Russia and adverse weather is hurting crops in other parts of the world.

Consultancy Strategie Grains in its July report cut its forecast for the EU maize crop to 65.4 million tonnes from 66.8 million in June to take account of the dry and hot weather.

In France, the EU's largest maize grower, output could fall below the average of the past five years of around 13.2 million tonnes, analysts and experts said.

"It will not be a good harvest this year," said Thomas Joly, maize expert at French crop institute Arvalis. "Yields will be well below expectations throughout the country."

Irrigated crops, which represent 35% of the grain maize area in France, could limit losses although water restrictions are being imposed in an increasing number of regions due to below-average precipitation since the spring.

Weather forecaster Meteo France said on Wednesday the month of July was on track to be the driest on record since 1959. Forecasts for the coming two weeksshow no rain in most of France until at least 12 August.

Rain, even scarce, was absolutely needed in the coming three weeks, critical for grain filling to preserve yields. Dry and hot conditions have already lowered the number of grain per ear, Joly said.

In Romania, the EU's second-largest maize producer, the lack of rainfall since spring has started to compromise the yield potential of summer crops, which is now seen below five-year averages, the EU crop monitor said in a report this week, warning of further cuts to its estimates.

"The currently forecast warmer-than-usual temperatures could negatively affect the sensitive pollination phase and further deteriorate the yield potential," it said.

Poland seemed to have fared better so far but again the next three weeks will be critical in terms of maize yields, said Wojtek Sabaranski of analysts Sparks Polska.

"However, with the record maize sowing area we have this year, it may turn out that the harvest will shape up at a level at least similar to last year's 7.3 million tonnes. Then, if it rains, we may see even higher, record output," he said.

In Germany, one analyst estimated the grain maize crop under 4 million tonnes this year against 4.4 million tonnes last year.

“We could just get an improvement if Germany had repeated and widespread rain in the next couple of weeks but this is not in the forecasts," the analyst said.e

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