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Frost Damage to European Crops `Very Likely,' MARS Says

Grain crops in parts of northwestern Europe including France and Germany probably suffered from winter kill because of a “severe” cold spell, the European Union’s crop-monitoring unit reported.

“Frost-kill damage due to the current cold spell is very likely to occur in eastern France, the Benelux countries, Germany, Poland and Czech Republic, as well as in Ukraine,” the EU’s Monitoring Agricultural Resources unit wrote in a report on its website dated Feb. 10 and published yesterday.

Mild weather before the cold spell had partially prevented winter cereals from hardening, meaning the grains were vulnerable to freezing temperatures, MARS wrote. Snow cover at the start of the cold snap was absent or “very thin” in Western Europe and Poland, as well as around the Black Sea, according to the EU unit.

Fully hardened winter cereals can tolerate minus 18 degrees Celsius (-0.4 Fahrenheit), based on changes in plant physiology induced by falling temperatures that change the freezing point of cellular liquids, according to MARS.

France is the EU’s largest wheat producer, followed by Germany.

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