German farmers fear another drought after dry winter

German farmers fear another drought after dry winter
Low rainfall and high temperatures have raised fears that Germany could again be gripped by drought this year.
Photo: Adobe Stock

German farmers have expressed concern that the high temperatures experienced so far this month could result in drought conditions similar to that of last year.

Temperatures of up to 26°C have been recorded in the Berlin area, which is about 11°C above the average for this time of the year.

Record-breaking temperatures and dry conditions resulted in much of central Europe being gripped by drought during 2018.

In Germany, the four-month period from April to July 2018 was the warmest in recorded history and resulted in a severe drought throughout most of the country, which caused significant damage to the agriculture industry, as well as many inland waterways.

The rainfall recorded for the greater Berlin area, for example, was only 70% of the annual average.

“If the dry weather continues in the coming months, the drought of 2018 could be repeated or even exceeded,” warned Udo Busch, head of the German weather service’s agricultural section.

He said soil moisture deficits were still lingering as a result of that drought and had not been replenished by winter rainfall. Conditions in many regions were “significantly worse in 2019 compared with the previous year”.

Farmers in the state of Brandenburg had already shared their concerns about their harvests.

“We’re hoping ardently for rain; the deciding month for us, is May,” said regional farmers’ federation spokesman, Tino Erstling.

The Federal Council of Bavaria was also in the process of introducing a government-backed, multi-risk insurance scheme to offer protection against natural hazards, including drought.

In neighbouring Austria, the first signs of drought had already appeared in the east and north of the country, raising fears that this year’s harvest could have a bleak outlook.

The rainfall received in the region in recent weeks was reportedly down to a quarter of the 10-year average.

Potato growers in Austria were also demanding a relaxation of pesticide regulations to enable them to better control wireworm infestations, as the pest was flourishing as a result of the drought.

“The current signs point to suffering for agriculture,” a statement by specialist insurance company, Hagelversicherung said.