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Agriculture: Most Romanian agricultural crops hit by last fall’s drought

April 23, 2024

The area sown with winter cereals and canola was negatively affected by last autumn’s drought, and the lack of rainfall in recent months is worrying farmers in the south-east of the country. The European Commission estimates that Romanian farmers will obtain lower yields for wheat, barley and rapeseed this year.   After the warmest winter since 1991, with temperatures 3-4°C above the long-term average from early December to mid-March and lower-than-usual rainfall in the south of the country, farmers who bet this year on wheat and rapeseed could harvest less than last year, a not very good year for agriculture, according to a European Commission forecast.   For wheat, a production of 4.52 tons per hectare is estimated, 1% below that of 2023, but 7% above the average of the last five years. Romania is thus among the nine member states with declining wheat production, the most significant minus being estimated for Austria (minus 7%) and Slovakia (minus 7%). If we refer to the entire Union, the premises are positive, with a 2% increase in yield per hectare, up to 5.6 tons per hectare.   Wheat production in 2023, according to the July 26, 2023 data by the INS, was 9,172,195 tons, 5.6% higher than in 2022, but below that of 2021 when farmers achieved 10, 4 million tons. However, according to the data of the European Commission, the production of durum wheat combined with that of soft wheat amounts to 10.1 million tons from 2.2 million hectares. If the same surface were maintained this year, the wheat production of 2024 would exceed 10 million tons. Winter barley production is also on the downward trend in the first forecast of the year. According to the European Commission’s estimates, Romanian farmers could obtain an average of 4.6 tons per hectare, 4% below last year’s yield and 8% above the average of the last five years.   It is the second largest yield drop in the EU, after France where productions per hectare could decrease by an average of 9% compared to 2023.   At EU level, the expected average yield is 5.95 tonnes per hectare, with 2% lower than last year and 1% above the average of the last five years. According to the European Commission, last year Romania produced 1.8 million tons of barley from an area of 502,000 hectares.   Regarding this year’s rapeseed production, the European Commission estimates average yields of 2.98 tonnes per hectare, 1% lower than last year and 11% above the average of the last five years. In the EU, the estimated average is 3.25 tons per hectare, 2% above last year and the average of the last five years, in the context where only five member states are forecast to decrease by up to 7% (Slovakia). Instead, Estonian farmers will have 40% higher yields compared to last year, namely 2.28 tons. According to European Commission data, Romanian farmers obtained 1.9 million tons of rapeseed last year.   “The worst precipitation deficit (30-50% below the long-term average) was recorded along the border with Bulgaria and in the territories near the Black Sea. February was significantly drier than usual everywhere except the Central region. Short cold spells in January caused no damage to winter cereals, and exceptionally warm conditions in early February resulted in an early resumption of vegetative growth (albeit accompanied by a significant decrease in frost tolerance). Soil moisture levels are mostly adequate, but are below average in the southeastern regions. The area sown to winter cereals and canola was adversely affected by last autumn’s drought. A further reduction in the area cultivated with rapeseed is expected, depending on whether and how well they will recover in the coming weeks, especially in the south-east of the country”, says the EC.  

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