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Brussels, 24 July 2007

European Commission publishes annual crop yield forecasts[*]: Heat waves, droughts and excessive rain across Europe brings mixed results

The European Commission's in-house scientific service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), has just released its annual crop yield forecast for Europe. The central prediction is that the 2007 total cereal harvest will be 276 M tonnes or 1,6% below the average of the last five years with Central and Eastern Europe losing out the most.

Across the EU, the growing season trend has been exceptional with mild winter and hot spring temperatures boosting crop growth. Northern regions have been particularly hit with intensive rain while heat waves and drought spells have had a detrimental effect in Eastern countries, especially around the Black Sea region.

In Romania, for example, the predictions are that wheat yield will be 20.1% below average, while in Bulgaria barley yield will be down 14.6% and for maize the decrease could be as much as 40%. In Hungary, maize yield will be 6.7% lower, soft wheat yields will be 7.1% lower in the Czech and down 8.9% in the Slovak Republic.

Looking at individual crops across the EU-27 over the past five years, the latest 2007 yield forecasts are:

  • soft wheat: (±0%)
  • durum wheat (+13.5)
  • barley (+3.4%)
  • grain maize (-0.8%)
  • rape seed (-5.1%)
  • sunflower (-3.4%)
  • potato (+8.1%)
  • sugar beet (+4.2%)

The total EU-27 land cover used for cereal production in 2007 is estimated to have decreased by 2.3%. Whereas 276 M tonnes (5 M tonnes (-1.6%) less than the five year average) will be produced, this still represents approximately 10 M tonnes more production than 2006 figures.

Unseasonably high temperatures of 2-4°C above the seasonal average across the growing season certainly had an impact in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkan region. France, Germany and the Benelux also enjoyed a very mild spring. Spain and Portugal received good spring rainfall which spread to Central and Western European countries from May onwards.

At the end of June and during the middle of July, South-Eastern Mediterranean areas like Italy and the Balkans experienced heat waves and unseasonably dry conditions. An extreme heat wave is still under way in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania where both winter and summer crop yields are being affected.

During the same period, unseasonably high rainfall in North Atlantic and North Sea areas has reduced crop yield potentials. Since the beginning of June, for example, more than 150 mm of rain has fallen over the UK, Northern France, Northern Germany, Benelux, Denmark, Norway and Northern Poland and has partly spoiled first harvests. Peaks of 260 mm in Norway and even 445 mm in Northern England were recorded.

Looking at extreme falls in average cereal production over the past five years, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and the Slovak and Czech Republics have been particularly badly hit:

Romania (-20.1% for wheat yield compared to average, -19.9% for barley, -17.7% for maize, -16.9% for sunflower, -50% for rape seed), Bulgaria (-14.6% for barley yield compared to average, -12.4% for soft wheat, -40.4% for maize, -20% for sunflower), Hungary (-6.7% for maize yield compared to average, -7.9% for potato, -5.9% for barley), Slovak Rep (-8.9% for soft wheat compared to average, -2% for winter barley, -15.6% for rape seed) and Czech Rep (-7.1% for soft wheat yield compared to average, -7.7% for barley).

Detailed forecasts by crop and country are published in MEMO/07/301
Further information:

[*] Disclaimer: The crop yield forecasts are based on an integrated use of statistical analysis, crop growth simulation models, observed climatic data and remote sensing observations. They are issued based on the hypothesis that the remaining part of the season will not face additional extreme events which would have an impact on summer crops (maize, potato, sunflower, sugar beet).

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