Europe grapples with drought
September 14, 2022 - Europe has cut its forecast for this year’s maize harvest to the smallest in more than three decades, with production in the Ukraine, France and Romania falling, driven by the worst drought in 500 years.
The hot, dry conditions have wreaked havoc, with most of the continent’s water-starved fields producing lower than expected yields.
The corn (maize) harvest will plummet by 24 per cent, from 115 million tonnes (Mt) in 2021 to 87.5Mt this year, according to the EU’s Monitoring Agricultural Resources unit (MARS).
“Water and heat stress periods partly coincided with the sensitive flowering stage and grain filling,” MARS reported. “This resulted in irreversibly lost yield potential.”
Production in Ukraine will plummet by almost 24 per cent, from 42Mt to 32Mt. French production of the staple grain used to feed chickens and pigs will fall 25 per cent to 11.7Mt, the lowest since 1990; its agriculture ministry said Tuesday (September 13, 2022). Fields in Romania, another large EU producer, have also suffered.
The plunge in production likely will boost the cost of feeding livestock herds. According to European Commission data, butter prices in the EU have surged 80 per cent in the year to July, with milk powder up more than 50 per cent and beef 28 per cent higher.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it expected the EU to overtake China as the world’s top corn buyer in the 2022-23 season.