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Europe Mars Bulletins

24 February 2014

MARS Bulletin Vol. 22 No. 2 (2014) (Crop monitoring in Europe)MARS Bulletin Vol. 22 No. 2 (2014) (Crop monitoring in Europe)

Supplied by: MARS BULLETIN – EC - JRC

Exceptional mild winter and very wet in western Europe

Between January and February, persistent and heavy rains occurred in several regions of western Europe. In northern Italy and major parts of the British Isles, the period under review (1 January – 17 February) was the wettest on our records (since 1975), with repeated periods of continuous rainfall. Some agricultural areas were flooded and many others were waterlogged. Similar conditions occurred - to a lesser extent - in some regions in southern and western France. The Iberian Peninsula was also subjected to high rainfall, especially the first half of February.

The impacts of the flooding and waterlogged conditions on crop and pasture production are difficult to judge at this time. Normally, during winter time, pastures and crops can withstand prolonged periods of waterlogged or ponded conditions, but this year’s rains are exceptional and temperature conditions are unusually mild in many of the affected areas. This implies that soil oxygen is relatively rapidly consumed by roots and microbial activity leading to root asphyxia. Depending on local conditions, the effects can vary from a slight impact on growth which can be compensated once conditions improve, to total crop loss and areas that have to be completely re-sown. Moreover, excessive rain implies nutrient losses, and affected areas could be more susceptible to disease outbreaks. The situation appears to be more serious in several areas of northern and central Italy, for which a relatively large share of arable land has been subject to prolonged rains combined with very mild temperatures.

In the UK and Ireland, grassland areas are relatively more affected than croplands, and temperature conditions have been somewhat colder (albeit still unusually mild for these regions). At the national level the impacts on production are expected to be limited. In France, the negative impact of the rains is expected to be more localised. In the Iberian Peninsula, the excessive rains in the north-western areas may have hampered pasture development, whereas the effects on crops and restored water reservoirs are predominantly beneficial in the southern regions.

February 2014


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