EU MARS Says Frost Not Expected to Damage Crops This Month

Winter grain crops in the European Union probably won’t experience damaging frost at least through the end of this month, the bloc’s crop-monitoring service said.

Western areas of the 27-country bloc have seen above-average temperatures in recent weeks while eastern regions were colder than normal, according to an online report today from the EU’s Monitoring Agricultural Resources unit. Hardening of winter crops is “well advanced,” meaning plants are dormant and able to withstand lower temperatures, according to the report.

Temperatures in the Black Sea region may be as much as 8 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than average through Jan. 28, MARS said. Other parts of Europe may be colder than normal, especially northern areas stretching from Belgium across the Baltic region and into western Russia. Temperatures in Europe’s north and northeast may reach minus 18 degrees Celsius, MARS said.

“Winter crops are fully or almost fully hardened in the northern agricultural zones of Europe as well as in the region from Poland to Romania and further eastwards,” MARS said. “On the basis of our frost-kill model, no frost damages have been simulated or are expected between now and the end of January.”

Milling-wheat prices on NYSE Liffe in Paris rallied 27 percent last year as dry weather in eastern Europe, Russia and the U.S. eroded global grain supplies. The price rose 1.1 percent today to 250.75 euros ($333.65) a metric ton.

Snow Cover

Snow cover from the eastern half of France, Europe’s biggest wheat grower, to the eastern border of the EU has been reestablished since Jan. 5, after mild temperatures in late December and early this year previously melted the snow, according to the report.

Precipitation since Dec. 11 topped 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) in the U.K., France, Germany, Denmark and southern Norway, and moisture was abundant in the eastern Adriatic and Aegean Sea regions, MARS said. Excess rain has hurt early crop development in England. Spain, central Italy, western Romania and parts of some northwest African countries have experienced dry conditions, according to the report.

“The dry weather led to favorable sowing conditions in Spain, but significant precipitation is needed in the near future to replenish the soil moisture,” MARS said.

Western and northern areas of the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and the western Balkans and Turkey may have abundant precipitation through Jan. 28, with local amounts topping the long-term average of about 150 millimeters, MARS said. Northern Germany and France, Baltic countries, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg and eastern Turkey will have “very scarce precipitation,” according to the report.

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