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Europe Mars Bulletins


27 November 2012

 Europe Mars Bulletin Vol. 20 No. 11 Europe Mars Bulletin Vol. 20 No. 11

Cereals yield below average. The total cereals yield at EU-27 level is forecast 5.7% below last year’s campaign and 2.7% below the 5 years’ average mainly caused by the drop in yields for grain maize.
Supplied by: MARS BULLETIN – EC - JRC

Recurrent extreme heat waves and precipitation deficiencies caused serious grain maize yield losses in Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Italy. The grain maize yield forecast for France, Spain, Greece and Austria is at average. A positive campaign is expected in Germany, Poland, Portugal, Lithuania and the Netherlands. In several countries the maize partly substituted frost killed winter cereals, therefore the acreage increased at European level. As for wheat yields of the current season are forecast slightly below the average of the last five years. It was a rather positive campaign in France, Germany and Italy, but not sufficient to compensate the yield losses in Spain and the United Kingdom. Persistent dry conditions in the Mediterranean Basin were responsible for the modest durum wheat results. Barley yields are at average for EU-27. Although the season has been rather positive for most of Europe, especially for spring barley, persistent dry conditions in the Iberian Peninsula during winter and spring resulted in substantial yield losses.

The forecast yields for rye at EU-27 level are exceptionally good with 12% above last year’s campaign and around 8% above the 5 years’ average. The by far largest producers Poland and Germany saw a positive campaign. Triticale yields at EU-27 level are slightly below the average, mainly due to difficult meteorological conditions during winter in eastern Europe that were responsible of the moderate yields losses. Rice yield at EU-27 level is confirmed as being similar to the 5 years’ average and to last year despite incidents of infection. The overall EU-27 rapeseed yield is forecast slightly above last 5 years’ average. The campaign was positive for Italy, Denmark, Sweden, the Baltic States and France successfully compensating yield loses in Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany caused predominantly by the cold spell and frost kill at the end of January and first half of February.

Negatively Impacted Areas Season 2011/12

A - Campaign Review 2011/2012

Synthesis of the 2011/2012 Season

The campaign started off in autumn with exceptionally mild temperatures in western and northern regions of Europe. This was often coupled with scarce rainfall and November proved to be one of the driest months on record for western, central and eastern Europe. The prolonged water deficit in south eastern Europe postponed or hampered the emergence of winter cereals. On the contrary the Balkan Peninsula and Turkey experienced a colder autumn.

In winter generally milder-than-seasonal conditions prevailed from the beginning of December until the last dekad of January in most of Europe, followed by an extremely cold period until mid-February, especially in central and eastern Europe. Due to insufficient snow cover and severe frosts significant winter kill occurred mainly in France, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Ukraine causing area shifts from winter cereals and rapeseed which was severely hit to spring/summer crops. This was one of the reasons for the high increase in maize area compared to last year. A severe rain shortage has been observed during the winter months for Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Below-average winter precipitation was also recorded in southern France, northern Italy and England. In spring a very mild but predominantly dry March boosted the start of the season in north western, central and eastern Europe, but has been followed by a chilly April, that slowed crop growth. Towards the end of April beginning of May the first hot spells of the season around the Black Sea occurred and accumulated temperatures during spring where largely above the long term average (LTA). During spring there has been plenty of rain in western and northern Europe removing concerns of the previously dry period. At the end of the campaign UK and Ireland recorded one of the most humid seasons of the last 40 years. Especially in Ireland, where a deficit on incoming solar radiation associated to persistent overcast skies was observed, crop photosynthetic activity was constrained, resulting in below average yields. Similar in UK, the over-wet conditions hampered ripening and delayed the harvest.

Romania, Bulgaria and Greece experienced a wet spring too which may have led to a suboptimal root expansion making crops vulnerable to the later occurring water stress during summer and contributing to the negative yield outlook.

A dry period was noted for southern Ukraine and also in parts of Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Spain and Portugal saw some scattered rainfalls, but main agricultural areas remained rather dry. Here the persistent rain deficit along the growing season severely constrained leaf area expansion and grain formation stages and as a consequence yields dropped significantly. The summer months were characterized by persistent high temperatures in southern and south-east Europe coupled with scarce rain jeopardizing the yield potential especially for maize when not irrigated as well as sunflower and root crops. The main countries affected were Spain, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria resulting in very low yields.

Central and northern Europe experienced a rainy period throughout the summer months with unsettled weather and below-average temperatures allowing good to average yields. Specifically main producers as Germany and France saw a rather positive campaign, and no major obstacles during the harvest diminished the results.

Agro-Meteorological Campaign Overview

Autumn 2011 (September – November)

The mean temperatures were higher than the long term average in the western and northern regions of Europe. On the contrary the Balkan Peninsula and Turkey experienced a colder autumn. Scarce precipitation was recorded in several places in central and eastern Europe. November was one of the driest in several countries.

Temperature

During autumn the cumulated active temperatures (Tbase=0°C) significantly exceeded the seasonal values on the Iberian Peninsula, in France, Benelux countries, some areas of northern and central Italy, British Isles, Scandinavia, Finland and wide areas of Russia reaching +100 - +150 GDD surplus and accelerating the development of winter crops. Consequently air temperatures were significantly warmer than usual (+2 - +4°C) mainly in the Iberian Peninsula, in France, Alpine region, British Isles, some areas of northern and central Italy and Scandinavia. Colder than usual temperatures (-4 - -2°C) were recorded in the surrounding areas of the Black Sea, in Turkey, Caucasian region, Romania, Ukraine and Bulgaria. In some regions of Turkey and Caucasian region the accumulated active temperature deficit was more than 100 GDD. In September the maximum air temperature values were generally below 30°C north of the Alps. While 6-10 hot days (Tmax > 30°C) occurred in southern France, northern Italy, Hungary and South Romania. Numerous, 10-20 hot days were recorded in most of the Iberian Peninsula, Apennine and Balkan Peninsula as well as in western Turkey. Some extreme temperature peaks (Tmax>38°C) were measured in Andalucía (Spain), Kentriki Makedonia (Greece) and Izmir (Turkey) regions during September. Cold days (Tmin<=0°C) have been recorded since the mid of September in Scandinavian Peninsula, Finland, in the northern and eastern territory of Russia and Turkey (Erzurum). The strongest frost events happened during October but being still in a moderate range (Tmin>-6°C). In November frost events were more frequent in Central-Europe than usual. Especially numerous cold days (Tmin < 0°C) occurred in a wide strip between Greece and Belarus, in Turkey, western Ukraine and in Russia north of Caucasus Mountains exceeding the long term average by 10 days. The western part of the Mediterranean region and areas along the Atlantic shore remained frost free.

Precipitation

A severe rain shortage, during the autumn, affected the Carpathian region, Poland, Ukraine and Turkey. These regions have experienced rainfall less than 100 % than the LTA. Below-average precipitation was recorded also in northern France, northern and central Italy and some areas of England, Austria, as well as in southern and eastern parts of European Russia. During October scarce or absent precipitations were measured in Spain, Po valley region in Italy and wide scattered areas of eastern Europe (Poland, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Czech Republic) and also in Turkey. The dry weather conditions continued through November which proved to be the driest period in our climatological record in several countries in central and western Europe. During this month rainfall of less than 10 mm was recorded in the Black Sea countries, Carpathians region and central Italy, which suffered from a lack of rain since mid-August.

Scarce or no rainfall was measured mainly in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, some areas of Germany, southern Poland, Slovakia, some areas of Romania and Moldova. Sowing was delayed or detained in Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldavia and Ukraine due to scarce or no rainfall. At several places the soil moisture content was not sufficient for the germination and development of winter cereals. During the autumn, the rain was mainly concentrated in the western and northern Atlantic coasts and in central Mediterranean. In fact wetter than normal conditions occurred in Ireland, northern part of the British Isles, Scandinavia, southern of France, in northern Italy, Adriatic basin and Sicily, and large parts of Russia where precipitation exceeded 200 mm during these months.

Winter 2011-12 (December – February)

Generally milder-than-seasonal conditions prevailed from the beginning of December until the last dekad of January in most of Europe, followed by an extremely cold period until mid-February, especially in central and eastern Europe. This period was one of the coldest in our climatological record for several regions. Due to insufficient snow cover and severe frosts significant winter kill occurred in some areas of central and eastern Europe. A severe rain shortage has been observed since December in Spain, Portugal and Morocco, with the driest period in our climatological record for southern Spain. Below-average winter precipitation is recorded also in southern France, northern Italy and some areas of England, Austria, Slovenia and Hungary as well as in southern and eastern parts of European Russia.

Temperature

In December, a warm anomaly was significant for most of the continent. The cumulated active temperatures indicated a +60 to +120 GDD (growing degree days) surplus in a large triangle between the Pyrenees, southern Finland and the Caucasus. The mean temperature exceeded the long-term average by +2 to +4°C in a wide strip from France to southern Russia. In the Baltic countries, Belarus and Ukraine the December was on average +4 to +6°C milder than usual. The most prominent thermal anomalies >+8°C occurred in Finland and areas around the White Sea. The conditions were near normal in the British Isles and in the Mediterranean Sea basin. Only eastern Turkey and Georgia proved to be colder than the average, by -2 and -5°C respectively. In the New Year, the mild weather continued throughout Europe and lasted until 25 January, with positive anomalies from Ireland to the Ural Mountains. More seasonal conditions were observed in the Iberian and Apennine Peninsulas and the Maghreb countries, but the eastern region of the Mediterranean and the southern coastline of the Black Sea proved to be -1 to -3°C colder than usual. The higher-than-seasonal temperatures in the first half of the winter favoured the germination and tillering of winter cereals but delayed or hindered the hardening process, exposing the new plants to a higher risk of frost damage. Due to a strong Nordic cold air intrusion, the temperature decreased dramatically throughout Europe after 25 January and frost kill became a real risk. The first dekad of February was extremely cold, with temperatures more than -10°C (or even -15°C in some places) lower than average in large parts of Europe. The coldest temperatures reached -20°C in wide areas between eastern Germany and Bulgaria, and along the eastern border of Poland, Slovakia and Romania temperatures even dropped below -25°C. What is more, the daily maximum temperatures did not rise above 0°C between 28 January and 12 February in Germany and all countries eastwards towards Russia.

In several places the period 21 January–20 February is the coldest in our archive (the last 37 years) considering both daily maximum and minimum temperatures. The number of cold days (Tmin < 0°C) reached 10 in almost all of Europe and exceeded 21 in most of eastern Europe and wide areas across southern Europe. Due to insufficient snow cover and severe frosts significant winter kill occurred in eastern France, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, some areas in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Ukraine, as simulated by our frost kill model and confirmed by remote sensing observations showing unfavourable biomass development. Warming started from 16 February as the prevailing anticyclone above Europe collapsed in the last dekad of February, with daily mean temperatures often exceeding the long-term average.

Precipitation

In December precipitation was frequent and ample in Scandinavia, the British Isles, France, the Benelux countries, Germany and areas along the western coastline of the Adriatic and the Aegean Sea, where in several places more than 200 mm of precipitation was recorded. These regions experienced characteristically +50 to +100 % more precipitation than usual.

Scarce or no rainfall was measured in the Iberian Peninsula, northern Italy, southern France, Morocco and in areas east of the Black Sea. Romania and Moldova also had below-average precipitations.

The dry weather conditions continued through January in Spain and Portugal as well as in northern Italy and southern France, accumulating a significant water deficit since last autumn. Abundant precipitation was recorded from 1 to 25 January in Scotland, the Baltic States, the Benelux countries, Germany, most of the Balkan Peninsula, eastern Turkey and some areas in Ukraine and Russia. Due to warm thermal conditions, hardly any snow covered western Europe before the beginning of the cold spell (25 January). The thin snow blanket in Poland, the Czech Republic and around the Black Sea was unable to protect crops efficiently over the first few days of the frost wave. Some slight snowfall eased the situation in western Europe until the end of the month. Precipitation did not reach the long-term average in western Europe in February. Primarily the Iberian Peninsula, the British Isles, France, the Benelux countries and Morocco experienced scarce precipitation. Snowfall was plentiful in a wide strip between the Black Sea and Scandinavia. Abundant precipitation was observed in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as along the western coastline of Scotland and Norway. In harmony with the rising temperatures in the last dekad of February, the snow cover started to melt in western and southern areas and the extent of the European snow cover decreased significantly. Gradual melting of the snow cover plays an important role in replenishing the soil moisture in Romania, Ukraine and eastern Europe.

Spring 2012 (March – May)

A very mild but predominantly dry March boosted the start of the season in central and eastern Europe, followed by a chilly April, that slowed crop growth. There has been plenty of rain in western and northern Europe and in Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. The dry spell continued in southern Ukraine and also in parts of Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

Temperature

Spring started in March with higher than normal air temperatures and a temperature accumulation well above the average, with the exception of the Iberian Peninsula, western France, Greece and the Maghreb, which experienced seasonal temperatures and a normal temperature accumulation. It was significantly fresher than normal in Turkey.

Maximum air temperatures climbed above 20 °C in parts of Germany, Poland and Austria, a positive deviation from the long-term average of just over 8 °C. The same was true for northern Italy and most of France, with accelerated crop growth in those regions.

Cold days below -8 °C were restricted to the Baltic states, eastern Poland, and Ukraine. Also, the number of cold days below 0 °C was considerably lower than the LTA for northern and central Europe, whereas central Spain saw an unusual drop in temperatures below 0 °C mid-March. Towards the end of March, all main agricultural areas in Europe were snow- free. April was a rather chilly month in western Europe, with a temperature accumulation far below the average in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Benelux countries and huge parts of France as well as in Spain and Portugal. The low temperature accumulation in western Europe was mainly due to low maximum values, but minimum temperatures also dropped below 0°C around 17 April. In general, plant growth was slower than normal but has not accumulated a significant delay in western Europe.

In April in central and eastern Europe, temperature accumulation fluctuated around the average in Germany and higher than usual temperatures were accumulated in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and around the Black Sea generally. This was particularly the case in southern Ukraine, where temperatures peaked above 30°C towards the end of April, and the hot spell continued into May — also covering parts of Romania. As a consequence of the hot spell, temperate accumulation in Ukraine in May is at least 40 % above the LTA. Romania and Bulgaria recorded also high temperature accumulation, compensating for their previously delayed crop growth. Temperature accumulation in May was close to the average for central Europe, France, Italy and the Baltic States. As in April, May brought lower-than-normal temperature accumulation for the UK and Ireland, while in France the accumulation was normal. In Spain and Portugal, on the other hand, the temperature accumulation has been high, with daily maxima above 30°C for 6 to 9 days in the southern and central parts of the Iberian Peninsula.

Precipitation

March was a dry month for most of Europe. There was a pronounced rainfall deficit in almost all Member States with the exception of Estonia, Sicily (IT), and East Anglia (UK) where the rain was more than 100% LTA. There was rain too in Murcia (ES) and Alentejo (PT), slightly alleviating the drought situation. For most of central Europe the rainfall cumulated during March has been less than 30 mm. Eastern Germany and the Czech Republic did not see a single day of rain above 5 mm. During April the United Kingdom, France and northern Italy all received more than their LTA rainfall, removing concerns raised by the earlier excessively dry period. The number of rainy days was also significantly higher than usual, making field work difficult. Rain also fell in Morocco, partially mitigating the effects of the previous dry period, as well as in Portugal and Spain. However, the rainfall in southern Spain came too late to help restore yield potential. Rainfall less than -30% than the LTA has been recorded in Germany, western Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Precipitation in May was rather scarce in important agricultural regions in eastern Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. Western and southern Ukraine remained dry.

Romania, by contrast, received a lot of rain after the previous dry period, maintaining the country’s yield potential, and this is also true of the main crop-producing regions in Bulgaria. Rainfall continued to be plentiful also in southern Spain, Portugal, the UK and northern Europe. Greece and Turkey also received beneficial rainfall, ensuring good growing conditions.

Summer 2012 (June – August)

Persisting high temperatures in southern and south-east Europe coupled with scarce rain had been causing problems for crops. The main countries affected were Spain, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. Central and northern Europe experienced a rainy period with unsettled weather and below-average temperatures. Rain amounts were even excessive in the United Kingdom.

Temperature

During the summer northern and western Europe experienced near-average air temperatures, with a significant drop in maximum and minimum temperatures at the beginning of June, while southern and eastern Europe suffered from hot weather. The mean daily air temperature was +2-4°C higher than the long term average (LTA) in north-eastern, central and southern Italy, Andalucía (Spain), eastern Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, as well as further east in Belarus, southern Ukraine, Turkey and the western and southern regions of Russia. In these areas from July to August maximum temperatures mostly exceeded 30°C, reaching up to 36-43°C. The number of hot days is a good indicator of the extraordinary thermal conditions experienced last summer in southern and eastern Europe. The total number of hot days (Tmax >30°C) since 1 June was 35 more than the LTA, and covered a wide belt stretching from Morocco and Spain through Italy and the Balkan region to the plains of the Caspian Sea.

The heat waves persisted around the Mediterranean Sea, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In particular, the number of days above 35°C has been considerably above the LTA in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Italy and Ukraine. Also, the Czech Republic has seen a couple of days above 35°C and consecutive days above 30°C. As a consequence, temperature accumulation in these countries is well above average. The heat waves mainly coincided with the ripening and maturation of winter cereals, negatively influencing the yield potential as the hot temperatures were accompanied by dry conditions. In the second dekad of August, the weather changed significantly in Europe with air temperatures above the LTA west of 10° east longitude except for Portugal and western Spain. At the same time, cold air relieved the hot spell in the east, where falling temperatures fluctuated around or slightly below the LTA.

Precipitation

During the entire period under consideration, excessive rainfall was recorded in the British Isles, the Alpine region and Scandinavia. All countries bordering the North Sea have seen a wet period too. The situation was completely different in southern and eastern Europe.

In fact, since June, a decisive rain deficit and a very high evaporative demand was recorded mainly for the Iberian Peninsula, northern and central Italy, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, southern Ukraine and Balkan Peninsula.

During June central, north and northern-eastern Europe received more than their long-term average rainfall, except some areas in Germany (Mecklenburg Vorpommern, Oberfranken, Oberpfalz) and southern west of France, where a rainfall deficit of around 30% - 50 % has been recorded.

The period was also dry for the main producing regions of Spain: Castilla Y Leon and Castilla La Mancha, as well as Mediterranean regions. Dry conditions persisted in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and in southern Russia. Strong rainfall deficits in July occurred in Spain, prolonging the dry conditions, and also in Italy, creating difficult conditions for summer crops. In Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria from July, soil moisture content was starting to deplete rapidly under summer crops, as in these countries the period has been very dry with extremely high evaporation demand due to the high temperatures. A large precipitation surplus is recorded for Great Britain, continuing the overly wet season and, in conjunction with low sunshine rates, diminishing yield potentials. During the second dekad of July abundant rainfall was recorded in Germany and in central and western France, beneficial for the grain filling of winter cereals. The wet condition during this period for the countries bordering the North Sea caused some delay in crop development. From the last dekad of July precipitation in France, Germany and Poland decreased, providing better conditions for the harvest. Furthermore during August abundant local rainfall was recorded in regions such as northern and southern Germany, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, the south-west Czech Republic and Poland along the Ukrainian border. Nevertheless, the overall number of days with significant rainfall (>5 mm) remained below the LTA across most of Europe. The soil moisture conditions remained favourable for summer crops in most of western and northern Europe, meeting the water requirements of summer crops. In Ireland, Scotland, southern Scandinavia and the Baltic States, the over-wet soil conditions may have caused some problems.

Some rainfall from the last dekad of July to the first decade of August was able to temporarily ease the water deficit in some areas of Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Despite this very high values of evaporation demand were recorded during August in southern and eastern Europe, mainly in Romania and Bulgaria being the highest in our time series. After 12 August, considerable rainfall was recorded in Ukraine (especially on the western side), Belarus and western Russia. The dry weather conditions greatly supported the quick and timely harvest of cereals and decreased harvest losses. At the same time, the water shortage compromised the yield potential of summer crops. Insufficient water supply to the maize crop during flowering and the first stage of grain-filling has led to significantly decreased yield expectations in Italy and Balkan Peninsulas.

Remote Sensing – Observed Canopy Conditions

Map highlights – The late frost events of March did not impact the overall biomass development in western countries. Summer crops biomass development from eastern Italy across the Black Sea region impacted by drought. In Spain and Portugal the persistent lack of rain determined an unfavourable season for cereals.

The cluster map shows the average time profiles of 7 main fAPAR classes across Europe. The classification is based on the trend of differences for the current season against the long term average (LTA 1998 – 2011).The light blue regions highlight cropland with an average trend of canopy development being slightly better than usual at start of the season. This behaviour is a consequence of the good germination of the winter cereals. Yellow profile describes regions where the frost kill events of late February and beginning of March took place. This initial delay was recovered along the season (also due to re-sowing) and the overall biomass accumulation ranged around average values. The pink profile describes the biomass evolution of large part of the Russian regions. The cold temperature of the early spring determined a relevant delay in spring crops emergence while the following high temperatures allowed for an impressive boost of canopy growth. The result was an increase in water demand with consequences on the soil water reservoir. The lack of precipitations and the high temperatures of summer months caused an early senescence and low biomass accumulation over the entire season. The red regions suffered partially from a lack of rain and predominantly high temperatures. While in the Iberian Peninsula the impact happened already in spring and was due to rain scarcity, in eastern Europe summer crops were affected mostly by high temperatures creating huge evaporative demands. Even eastern Italy was affected. In the light red regions crop conditions suffered from a suboptimal emergence that affected the whole season. The impact of the summer drought were less drastic in these regions were average water supply allowed for a better development compared to the neighbouring regions. The violet and the blue profiles are related to marginal rural areas and describe more natural vegetation than agricultural patterns.

Campaign Analysis EU-27 and Neighbourhood Countries

The cereals yield at EU-27 level is forecast 5.7% below last year’s campaign and around 2.7% below the 5-years average mainly caused by the drop in yields for grain maize.

Recurrent extreme heat waves and precipitation deficiencies caused serious grain maize yield losses in Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Italy. The grain maize yield forecast for France, Spain, Greece and Austria is at average. A positive campaign is expected in Germany, Poland, Portugal, Lithuania and the Netherlands. In several countries the maize partly substituted frost killed winter cereals, therefore the acreage increased at European level. As for wheat yields of the current season are forecast slightly below the average of the last five years. It was a rather positive campaign in France, Germany and Italy, but not sufficient to compensate the yield losses in Spain and the United Kingdom. Persistent dry conditions in the Mediterranean Basin were responsible for the modest durum wheat results. Barley yields are at average for EU-27. Although the season has been rather positive for most of Europe, especially for spring barley, persistent dry conditions in the Iberian Peninsula during winter and spring resulted in substantial yield losses. The forecast yields for rye at EU-27 level are exceptionally good with 12% above last year’s campaign and around 8% above the 5 years’ average. The by far largest producers Poland and Germany saw a positive campaign. Triticale yields at EU-27 level are slightly below the average, mainly due to difficult meteorological conditions during winter in eastern Europe that were responsible of the moderate yields losses. Rice yield at EU-27 level is confirmed as being similar to the 5-years’ average and to last year despite incidents of infection.

The overall EU-27 rapeseed yield is forecast slightly above last 5 years’ average. The campaign was positive for Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Baltic States and France successfully compensating yield loses in Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany caused predominantly by the cold spell and frost kill at the end of January and first half of February.

Potato overall yield is slightly above average thanks to a favourable season in the two largest producers countries (Germany and Poland), counterbalancing the very difficult seasons in the other big producers countries (UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, France). However, production prospects remain very low due a reduction in areas throughout EU-27. Sugar beet had a good start of the season which was followed by generally adequate growing conditions without significant stresses. These conditions determined yield forecast around the 5-years average for the majority of the EU-27 countries with the exception of the drought hit countries in south eastern Europe.

Cereals EU-27

Wheat – Yields Slightly Below the Average

The yields of the current season are slightly below the average of the last five years. It was a positive campaign in France, Germany and Italy, but not sufficient to compensate the yield losses in Spain and the United Kingdom. Persistent dry conditions in the Medi-terranean Basin were responsible for the modest durum wheat results.

Overall wheat yield of EU-27 countries is expected on 5.26 t/ha, a decrease of 1 % against the average of the last five years and 2 % against the productive 2010-2011 season. The campaign has been rather positive for soft wheat for some of the main producers: France, Germany and Italy –favoured by weather conditions during spring with abundant rainfalls and mild temperatures between April and May–the yields compared to the last five years improved. Similarly, higher yields than usual are forecast for Denmark and Benelux.

Nevertheless, in the UK cumulated precipitation became excessive and incoming sun radiation insufficient for grain formation of soft wheat after the most humid spring of the last 40 years, followed by over-wet conditions in summer that delayed the harvest.

Therefore yield is expected to decrease about 5% compared to the last five years. By contrast, dry conditions have been the leitmotiv all the season in the Iberian Peninsula, producing substantial yields losses: about 20% in Spain, and 50% in Portugal according to our analysis.

The results have been 3-5% below the average in Poland, Romania and Hungary, affected by dry and hot conditions during the grain filling stage at the beginning of summer. Similar conditions were observed in Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia. In Bulgaria, however, hot temperatures affected only marginally soft wheat, improving the results of the last five years but still below the productive year 2011. Modest results are predicted for durum wheat, due to the dry conditions experienced in most of the Mediterranean basin, especially in Iberian Peninsula, with yield decreases reaching 50% in Spain and 12% in Greece compared to the last five years. The satisfactory results in Italy (+5%) and France (on the average, according to our forecasts) were not sufficient to compensate for the adverse effects of the rainfall scarcity in southern Europe, therefore overall durum wheat yield is foreseen at 3.17 t/ha, what represents a decrease of 11% against the last season and 5% against the period 2007-2011.

Barley – Favourable Season for Spring Barley

Average yields for EU27, compared to the period 2007-2011. Although the season has been positive for most of Europe especially for spring barley, persistent dry conditions in the Iberian Peninsula during winter and spring resulted in substantial yield losses.

Barley yield is forecast at 4.36 t/ha for EU-27, at the average of the last five seasons, but slightly improving the results of 2011. In 2012, the relative importance of spring barley increased against winter barley in terms of acreage, as a consequence of the re-sowing of winter barley fields affected by frost kill with spring barley in some regions of central and eastern Europe. This shift in acreage from winter to the less productive spring varieties explains why overall barley results are below average, given that both winter and spring barley yields exceed the figures of the last five years. Weather conditions between April and June were quite positive in most of Europe, with abundant rainfalls and temperatures slightly above the seasonal values, boosting crop development of winter barley but, especially, spring barley. In France and Germany expected yield of spring varieties was 6 - 8% higher than those of the period 2007-2011, with a similar picture observed in Denmark, whereas winter barley was forecast slightly above the average (2-4%). In north eastern Europe, spring barley benefited as well of the favourable weather conditions, with satisfactory yields in Poland, Baltic Sea countries and Sweden.

UK and Ireland recorded one of the most humid seasons of the last 40 years. Especially in Ireland, where a deficit on incoming solar radiation associated to persistent overcast skies was observed, crop photosynthetic activity was constrained, resulting in yields below the average (-1%) despite of the abundant water supply. Similar in UK, the over-wet conditions hampered ripening and delayed the harvest of spring barley, but anyhow total barley yields remained very close to the last five years figures.

By contrast, the persistent dry conditions suffered in Spain and Portugal along the season –cumulated rainfall along the growing season was almost half of the long term average– severely constrained leaf area expansion and grain formation stages. This resulted in strong yield losses, around 20% in Spain of both winter and spring barley and 50% in Portugal. Similarly, in the Black Sea area hot temperatures registered from June onwards affected negatively spring barley during grain filling stage, especially in Romania and Hungary, whereas in Bulgaria this effect was not noticeable and yields were expected above the average.

Rye – Positive Yield and Production Outlook

The yield forecast at EU-27 levels for rye is clearly above the 5 years’ average and last year’s campaign due to good results in Poland and Germany.

Rye being the hardiest of all cereals was less affected by the cold spell in February in Germany and Poland and proved to have a good regeneration during spring. The remaining season for the two big producers was rather positive. The dry period Germany during spring did not negatively affect the rye and agro-meteorological conditions were helpful during flowering and grain filling. In the western part of Poland rye benefited from favourable wet conditions in early summer, while the main production areas in the central Poland experienced beneficial thermal conditions. Both countries are forecast to be above last year (decidedly in Germany) and the 5 years’ average. Rye in Spain as the third largest producer was constrained by the large water deficit, even if more drought resistant than wheat.

Triticale – Unfavourable Winter Limited Yields

Yields expectations for the 2011/2012 season are slightly below the results of the last five campaigns. Difficult meteorological conditions during winter in eastern Europe were responsible of moderate yields losses.

A decrease of 3% of the yields against the results of the five last campaigns is forecast as a consequence of unfavourable weather conditions during winter in eastern Europe. Especially in Poland –where half of the total triticale area in EU-27 is sown– the extremely low temperatures registered during February with average daily temperatures dropping down to -15°C produced substantial losses both in harvested area and yield (forecast at 3.01 t/ha, -10% than in 2007-2011 period).

The impact of frost kill on triticale was low in central and western Europe, where winter was followed by a rather favourable spring with mild temperatures and abundant rainfalls benefiting crop growth and yield potentials. Therefore, Germany and France improve yields slightly of the last five seasons. Similarly, in northern Europe favourable temperatures and sufficient precipitation during most of the growing season allowed yields to increase in the Baltic countries and Denmark. A hot spell during June in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia affected yields expectations moderately, whereas in Iberian Peninsula the impact of one of the driest seasons in the last 30 years was severe.

Grain Maize – Hot Spells Decreased Maize Yields

Recurrent extreme heat waves and precipitation deficiencies caused serious yield losses in Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Italy. The yield forecast for France, Spain, Greece and Austria is at average. A positive campaign is expected in Germany, Poland, Portugal, Lithuania and the Netherlands. The European maize yield is forecast not just below the previous exceptionally good year, but even below the average of the last 5 years. In several countries the maize partly substituted frost killed winter cereals, therefore the acreage increased at European level.

The continuous and excessive rain in April complicated the sowing of maize in northern Italy, France, northern Spain as well as in Belgium and also hampered germination and emergence. In April and May Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania experienced abundant rainfalls, which may have delayed the sowing of maize primarily in Romania. In these countries moist soils at the beginning of the crop cycle could have led to a sub-optimal root expansion making crops vulnerable to water stress. Maize was sown under good soil moisture conditions in the other areas of Europe like Poland, Germany, Portugal and most of Spain.

Spain experienced dry and hot weather from last dekad of June until end of September, but the irrigation was sufficient to fulfil the water requirement of maize during its crop cycle. The unfavourably high temperatures retained the yield potential on average level. In France biomass accumulation and canopy development was promising until end of July in spite of the over-wet spring. The high temperatures and scarce rainfalls from mid-July and especially in August required complementary irrigation to avoid significant yield losses. An average maize yield is expected.

Very high temperatures and rainfall deficiency characterized the summer in northern and central Italy just as in Slovenia inducing a serious water deficit and consequently decreasing significantly the yield outlook. In Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria as well as the remaining Balkan Peninsula scarce rainfalls and extreme high temperatures with an unusual frequent occurrence led to the formation of a severe drought situation during flowering and grain filling. As a consequence yields are at the level of the most severe years. Additionally the acreage of grain maize decreased, as many fields where harvested as green maize for silage.

Eastern Austria and western Slovakia also suffered from a lack of rainfall and unusual hot weather affecting negatively the biomass accumulation and leaf area; consequently expected grain maize yields are low in these countries, too.

A wide area from Benelux to Lithuania including Germany and Poland experienced slightly warmer than seasonal weather conditions with satisfactory precipitation and irradiation levels resulting in an adequate leaf area expansion and above average biomass and storage organ growth. Here maize yields are forecast above the 5 years’ average.

Rice – Average Season with Satisfactory Yields

Despite incidents of infection satisfactory yields are forecast, rice yield at EU-27 level is confirmed as being similar to the 5 years’ average and to last year.

Rice yield at EU-27 level is forecast above last year’s values by 2%, and by 0.7% compared to the 5-year average, though the sowing area is around 4 % down on last year’s figure.

Romania shows a major yield decline by around 13 %, due to the enhanced risk of blast infection concentrated in the southern regions that adversely affected the photosynthetic capacity of the crop. The hot and dry weather continued throughout August in Spain and Bulgaria affected the potential yield. Nevertheless the yield expectation remains close to the 5 years’ average and slightly below the previous year's figures, for Spain at 7.32 t/ha and for Bulgaria at 4.88 t/ha.

In Italy the model simulates good canopy expansion; this is confirmed by remote sensing observations.

However, the slight advance in canopy senescence due to the advance in development could have affected storage organs accumulation rate. Nevertheless yield is forecast at 6.4 t/ha, +0.9% with respect to the 5-year average. In Portugal and France conditions seem normal and similar to the last years leading to a final yield expectation which is close the average, for Portugal at 5.9 t/ha and for France 5.46 t/ha.

In Greece and Hungary with a favourable temperature regime and abundant rainfall during the start of the crop season, the scene was set for optimum crop growth and further development. The simulated values of potential leaf area index show positive canopy expansion, and potential yield storage values are also on a positive trend and above the long-term average values, for Greece at 7.72 t/ha and for Hungary at 4.13 t/ha, suggesting a good yield year.

Oil Seed Crops EU-27

Rapeseed – Yield Decreases in Eastern Europe

The overall EU-27 rapeseed yield during the current season was slightly above the last 5 years’ average. The campaign was positive for Italy, Denmark, Sweden, the Baltic States and France and successfully compensated yield loses in Poland, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany caused predominantly by the cold spell and frost kill at the end of January and first half of February.

Forecasted rapeseed yield of EU-27 countries is expected on 3.03 t/ha, about 1% higher than the last 5 years’ average and 6% higher than previous year. The campaign was successful especially for countries that did not experience frost kill damages during the cold spell. The mild weather during the early spring accompanied with temperature accumulation higher than average positively influenced the rape seed development in northern Italy, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and the Baltic states. These countries experienced good conditions for rape seed growth, with average thermal conditions and rainfall higher than average, in late spring. Good weather accompanied with optimal crop development resulted in higher than average yields. France as the biggest rapeseed producer is set slightly higher than the 5 years’ average.

The yield forecast is lower than 5 years’ average for some of the major producers as Poland and Germany, as well as for some of the important eastern European producers such as Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The prominent cold spell at the end of January and the first half of February caused serious winter kill problems in these countries. Particularly areas of France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria were badly hit and rape seed damaged to a huge extent. Re-sowing in spring with alternative crops leads to a drop of planted rape seed area in those countries.

Rape seed yield for the UK is forecasted slightly below the last 5 years’ average, due to insufficient solar radiation and abundant rainfalls during flowering stage that hampered pollination and negatively affected yields.

EU Neighbourhood Countries

Turkey – Difficult Start, but Overall a Positive Season

Conditions around sowing in the agriculturally important central region of Turkey - Orta Anadolu - were characterized by low soil moisture. During the period before winter dormancy average precipitation and slightly below-average temperature were observed guaranteeing a normal crop development. The harsh winter had a negative impact on crops in the eastern regions of the country, but no significant losses in the main central agricultural regions were detected. Early spring was characterized by abundant rain, especially in the central Anatolian regions. This allowed crops starting the season with good relative soil moisture. However, below-average temperature slowed down an early development. This became apparent in the simulated biomass from the crop growth model, as well as confirmed by relatively low values of remotely-sensed NDVI. From April onwards favourable temperature, rainfall and global radiation characterized the season. Wheat and barley recuperated the delay gained in the beginning of the season, while grain maize commenced promisingly. Till the end of the season modelled crop indicators pointed to average or above-average yield and favourable weather did not hamper the harvesting activities.

Ukraine – Winter Frost Kill Followed by Hot and Dry Conditions Caused the Season to be Difficult

After being sown in favourable conditions, winter crops were affected by a dry period which was observed in autumn all over the country. Conditions during winter months were close to the average apart from February when a rapid drop in temperature combined with insufficient snow cover caused significant frost kill losses, especially in the southern oblasts. Spring brought hot and dry weather which did not help crops to recover after the harsh winter. In the southern and eastern oblasts the crop cycle was shorten, which reduced potential yields and lowered grain quality. Only June and July brought some promising rain which allowed wheat and barley to recuperate slightly. Concurrently continuous and persistent high air temperatures hindered grain maize development. In general the summer months were characterized by meteorological conditions varying notably in time and space. Exceptionally high temperatures alternated with significant drops. Abundant rainfall that was observed in the eastern regions delayed harvesting activities, but no significant losses were expected. Grain maize continued to have a difficult season especially in the north-eastern oblasts. Our forecast resulted in below average yields for wheat and barley whereas maize reached the 5 years’ average but yields are below the last season.

Belarus – Warm Weather with Seasonal Precipitation Resulted in Near Average Yield Outlook

During the previous winter no significant frost kill damage occurred in Belarus, since a thick snow cover protected the winter cereals against the harsh frosts of February. Sufficient precipitation replenished the soil moisture for springtime. The temperature was mostly above average from mid-April and until end of May. Below average thermal conditions characterized the first dekad of June, but the warm, even on some days, unusually hot weather returned and lasted until the first dekad of August when more seasonal conditions prevailed until the end of September. The cumulated active temperature sum (both Tavg>0°C and Tavg>10°C) indicated a continuously surplus over the crop cycle. The crop development was accelerated significantly this year reaching 10-20 days precocity.

The rainfall was evenly distributed over time and near normal for the season in the northern and western territories with slight (10-30%) deficiency and moderate surplus (15-35%) in the eastern and southern regions. Leaf area expansion was usual, but the senescence of wheat and barley leaves started prematurely. The shrinkage of canopy and the shortened crop cycle due to anticipated phenological development are the main reasons of the slightly below average yield expectations of these crops. The maize gained advantage from the warm and rainy weather building fair canopy and accumulating above average biomass for the end of the crop season therefore the yield expectations are positive. Our forecast indicates slightly below average yields for wheat and barley whereas maize moderately exceeds the 5 years’ average but yields are less than the last season.

Russia – Severe Drought Seriously Diminished Winter Wheat Yields

The weather conditions overall promoted the sowing campaign and wintering of winter wheat in Russia. The extreme cold spell of this February caused just below average frost kill damages concentrating mainly in the southern regions where the snow cover was not sufficient. From November until the end of March the precipitation was frequent and normal or above normal over most of Russia with the exception of areas between the Black and Caspian Sea as well as the eastern part of Volga Okrug indicating 10% - 30% precipitation deficiency. The yield potential was quite high at the beginning of April, but the situation changed dramatically. Air temperatures rose quickly and remained high almost continuously until the last days of May over wide areas of southern Russia. Unfortunately the hot weather was coupled with a long dry spell in a wide belt between the Black Sea and the border to Kazakhstan. A serious drought hit in southern, central and Volga districts. In mid-May the soil moisture content reached critically low values during the flowering and grain filling stage of winter wheat causing irreversible damages. Concurrently the northern regions of European Russia were only moderately warmer than usual and received normal amounts of precipitation.

From the last dekad of May some rainfalls started finally in the western, and later in the eastern part of southern Russia, but the regions remained characteristically drier than climatologically expected. This precipitation was belated for winter wheat, but decreased the possible losses of spring barley. Thermal conditions were more seasonal from late spring onwards, but the maximum temperatures still exceeded significantly the average. The crop development was accelerated by 10-30 days in the central, Volga and especially southern federal districts due to recurring and long lasting hot spells meanwhile the crop development remained seasonal in northern areas. The leaf area index of winter and spring cereals did not reach the average and senescence of crop canopy started earlier. The winter wheat yield outlook is poor. In the case of barley the yield will be also below average, but the losses or more moderate. The warm weather conditions and the timely sufficient rains in July and August were favourable in general for the maize crop, accordingly the yield expectations are above average, but spatial differences are notable.

Maghreb – Positive Season in Tunisia and Algeria

Favourable weather conditions during spring with rainfalls above average permitted satisfactory development of winter cereals in Algeria and Tunisia. In contrast, western Morocco regions suffered prolonged dry conditions during most of the growing season, with decreased yields compared with the last campaigns.

After a rather favourable start of the season in all the three countries, with abundant precipitation from October to December, meteorological conditions diverged between the Atlantic regions of Morocco and the Mediterranean basin. In western Morocco, where most of the winter cereals are produced, rainfall scarcity from December to March has limited crop growth during most of the campaign, constraining yield potentials. The precipitation received in April was not sufficient to compensate the adverse effects of previous dry conditions and consequently, this season forecasts are 15% below the average of the last five campaigns for both wheat and barley.

In the Mediterranean basin, by contrast, weather has been quite favourable for winter cereals, with enough rainfall during leaf area expansion and grain filling stages. As confirmed by satellite data, the presence of green biomass between February and June has been fairly above the seasonal values. The outlook for winter cereals is therefore slightly above the average in Algeria, whereas in Tunisia wheat is forecast at 2 t/ha (26% higher than the average of 2007-2011 years) and barley at 2.07 t/ha, very close to the absolute record of 2003.

November 2012

Source: MARS BULLETIN – EC - JRC

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