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Europe Mars Bulletins


22 October 2013

MARS Bulletin Vol. 21 No. 10 (Crop monitoring in Europe)MARS Bulletin Vol. 21 No. 10 (Crop monitoring in Europe)

Satisfactory summer crop yield expectations after a troubled start to the season.
Supplied by: MARS BULLETIN – EC - JRC

Satisfactory summer crop yield expectations after a troubled start to the season

The period of review from 1 September until 15 October was characterised by colder-than-average temperatures in eastern Europe and around the Black Sea. This first cold spell brought also some night frosts. Significant, locally excessive, precipitation was observed towards the end of the review period in central and eastern Europe as well as in the Benelux countries and Germany.



issued 18 October 2013

Crop senescence is almost complete all over Europe and the grain maize harvest is in full swing or already finished. Seasonal accumulation of biomass since 1 May varies from very positive anomalies in the Iberian Peninsula to negative anomalies in northern Italy, which is reflected in our yield forecasts. On balance, the EU-28 forecast for grain maize remains unaltered from the last bulletin, being slightly below the five-year average, but still clearly above last year’s yield. The grain maize yield has been lowered compared to our last bulletin for Germany, but increased for Hungary. The forecast for sugar beet remains unaltered for the EU-28 as a whole. The forecast for potatoes has been increased at EU-28 level, even though poor conditions at the end of the cycle led to a decrease in yield forecasts for Germany and Poland.

Pastures in Europe

Favourable season in central and southern Europe, but low biomass accumulation in the north

The north of Europe experienced a very cold start of the season. Air temperatures below average during March and April constrained green biomass formation in grassland regions of the UK, Ireland, the Benelux and northern France. In central and southern Europe, by contrast, the season was quite satisfactory, thanks to abundant rainfall received during late winter and spring, boosting the growth of pastures and fodder maize.

Good biomass production levels in most Mediterranean countries

In Spain and Portugal, production levels in the Dehesa area (eastern Spain and Portugal) strongly benefited from intense precipitation and mild temperatures during spring. Green biomass formation, as seen from satellite imagery, reached the highest levels observed in the past 15 years. By contrast, in the Cantabrian basin of the Asturia region, the season was average; grassland development was delayed due to cold temperatures until spring, but the production of biomass recovered during June and July. The season was positive in central and southern Italy.

Pasture areas in Toscana, Basilicata and Campania presented high biomass production levels throughout the growing season thanks to temperatures above the longterm average (LTA) and abundant rainfall, especially at the beginning of summer. However, fodder maize areas in northern Italy (especially Lombardia) suffered significant delays (of up to one month) in crop development as a consequence of cold and overly wet conditions at the beginning of spring that considerably limited yield potentials.

Adverse spring weather conditions limited growth in western Europe

Cold temperatures in March and April determined low biomass production levels in the UK and Ireland during the current season. These adverse weather conditions led to a significant delay in crop development (more than three weeks) compared to an average year, strongly limiting biomass formation at the beginning of the growing season. The situation improved considerably during summer, with a general increase of temperatures from July, permitting a partial recovery of grasslands. Similar conditions were observed in the Benelux and northern France in the regions of Bretagne and Normandie, where the overall results for the 2013 season are slightly below average. In the rest of France, by contrast, the biomass accumulation was substantially above that of an average year. Most of the main producing regions (Rhone-Alpes, Midi-Pyrenees, Auvergne, Limousin) exhibit very high production levels from June onwards, favoured by abundant rainfall, and temperatures that were close to the long term average.

Favourable season in central Europe

Abundant rainfall and average temperatures during spring and early summer permitted high production levels in the grasslands of Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria and Bayern in Germany. Overall, the season has been quite positive, as biomass formation exceeded seasonal values during most of the spring and at the end of summer, despite of a brief episode of water stress during the second half of July that limited vegetative growth.

By contrast, in northern Germany the adverse weather conditions during the start of the growing season, with daily average temperatures lower than 5°C until mid- April, strongly limited pasture growth. Therefore, biomass formation in grasslands up to the end of June was significantly below an average year. Biomass production levels gradually recovered during the summer period and at the end of the season, biomass availability on grasslands slightly exceeded the seasonal values.

Biomass formation boosted in eastern Europe during summer

The season was positive for Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. After an unfavourable start of the season with temperatures below LTA, a general increase in temperatures registered from June onwards boosted biomass formation, leading to a full recovery of production levels at the beginning of summer. Sufficient rainfall and mild temperatures in July and August allowed for a further increase of biomass accumulation, which, by the end of the season, was substantially above that of an average year.

Contrasting conditions in northern Europe

Biomass production levels were above average during the entire growing season in grassland regions of Sweden and Finland. Temperatures above LTA from mid-April led to a rapid growth of pastures, reaching high biomass formation levels at the beginning of summer. Weather conditions remained positive during the summer months, allowing the high levels of biomass accumulation to be maintained.

In Denmark, weather conditions were quite negative at the beginning of the growing season: cold temperatures strongly limited pasture development up to the end of spring, producing a delay of about two weeks in phenological development. During summer, however, temperatures were slightly above LTA, leading to improved biomass formation during the second half of the season. Biomass accumulation from July onwards was substantially above that of an average year, so that the overall season can be considered positive.

High production levels during most of the growing season in south east Europe

Weather conditions were rather positive during most of the growing season in Romania with mild temperatures and abundant rainfall in spring that led to a rapid development of pastures at the early phenological stages. Precipitation accumulation at the beginning of summer was substantially higher than LTA, which permitted the formation of biomass to be maintained at above-average levels. A dry spell during August decreased the vegetative vigour of grasslands and fodder maize, especially in central and western regions. Nevertheless, the season can be still considered positive.

October 2013

Source: MARS BULLETIN – EC - JRC

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