European crops should survive winter with only 'limited' damage


European growers look to be getting through winter without major frost damage, the European Commission said.

Despite some losses in Scandinavia, Germany, Spain, Hungary, and the Black Sea region, the EC said damages from frost-kill "remain limited".

But there are concerns in the Ukraine that a thick layer of snow, which protected the winter wheat crop, could start to cause problems if it lasts for much longer.

'Limited' frost damage

"A cold spell persisted throughout January in central and eastern Europe, with several day with minimum temperatures around -15c, an reaching values below 20c in many areas," the EC said.

But frost kill-damage was said to have been limited, and there are no new weather on the horizon.

"On the basis of the weather forecast, no further frost-kill events are expected before 22 February," the EC said.

Snow threat in Ukraine

But the EC warned that "the situation is delicate in central and north-eastern Ukraine," due to the thick layer of snow.

"In these regions the winter crops are protected by snow but the persistent thick snow cover (in several places sealed by ice crusts) can cause respiration problems for the underly8ing crops and increase the probability of snow mould," the EC said.

"This could cause significant damage if the snow cover lasts until after the end of February."

Dryness fears

And there could be dryness fears as well, although it still early in the season.

"A persistent rain deficit is recorded in a large are of central and north-eastern Europe, extending from Germany to Finland," the EC said.

"Rain would be welcomed in these regions to restore soil water reserves and groundwater as spring approaches."

But the conditions "do not present an immediate concern for crops," the EC said.

No reason to challenge forecast

Last week the consultancy Strategie Grains pegged the 2017 soft wheat crop at 143.8m tonnes.

This would be up 6% year on year, based on normal conditions after the previous year, which saw a very poor harvest in France, the top EU wheat grower.

"Nothing has occurred that would seriously challenge our forecast for the EU's [soft wheat] output in 2017-18," Strategie Grains said.


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