France on alert ahead of potential drought

3 Jun 2022 | Yana Sukharska

Despite the improvement in the weather last week, the condition of all French crops has deteriorated over the week ending May 30, according to the French state farming agency Franceagrimer in Friday's report.

Temperatures have remained elevated and the rainfall was not enough to significantly reverse the drought trend, along with just patchy storms over the past few weeks that have damaged crops in some parts of the country and also led to quality ratings being downgraded.

The favorable effect from rainfall can only be seen in the fact that the downgrade of the crops condition was the smallest incremental change of the last four weeks.

In a statement one of France's main farmers groups, FNSEA, said it saw “no improvement on the drought front.”

The winter soft wheat crop continued its slide, with the crop rated “good to excellent” losing two percentage points on the week to 67% - down from 80% at this stage last year.

The share of the winter barley rated “good to excellent” lost one percentage point on the week to 65%, down from 76% last year.

The condition of French spring barley crop took a bigger hit, falling by seven percentage points for a second successive week with the share of crop rated “good to excellent” now at 54%, down from 84% at the same time last year.

Durum rated “good to excellent” dropped by three percentage points to 64% during the week up to May 30, down from 68% at the same time last year.

French corn saw its condition was stable, with its share of “good to excellent” pegged at 91%, up from last year’s 90%.

Since May 30, the prefecture has issued a decree on water restriction and irrigation measures, that implies the cessation of non-priority water withdrawal, including for agricultural purposes, from specific areas.

There are 24 districts across the country that are concerned about measures to limit the use of water and irrigation.

Of those, nine districts are on high alert, which will be subject to a measure to reduce water consumption for agricultural purposes by more than or equal to 50% (or a ban greater than or equal to 3.5 days a week).

These areas are: Ain, Ardeche, Dordogne, Pyrenees-Atlantique, Tarn, Var, Deux-Sevres, Charente and Maritime Charente.

Ten districts are on alert and will be subject to less than 50% reduction in water consumption (or a ban of up to 3 days a week).

These are Ile-et-Villain, Sarthe, Maine and Loire, Yonne, Haute-Savoie, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Vaucluse and Drome.

Finally, 11 districts have been put on full or localized vigilance.