Weather could spell trouble for EU crops in months ahead: MARS

23 Jan 2023 | Yana Sukharska

The EU's crop monitoring service has warned that recent unusually warm weather could be storing up trouble for crops in the coming months, as much of the cold tolerance previously built up was lost, according to a monthly update.

The January report published by Monitoring Agriculture Resources (MARS) showed winter crops and grasslands were in good condition across much of Europe, and so far, frost damage has been limited.

A rapid increase of temperatures toward the end of the year with record-breaking New Year’s Eve temperatures (locally surpassing +20 °C) in eastern France, Germany, Poland and the alpine regions initiated a de-hardening period and melt snowpack over agricultural areas.

While winter cereals in Russia, the Baltic countries, and Scandinavia are still fully to almost fully hardened, those in most other parts of Europe are currently only partially hardened.

This de-hardening process leads to a higher vulnerability in case of new cold spells.

Moreover, alternating freeze/thaw cycles can damage plants, thus reducing their vigour and negatively affecting spring regrowth.

Mild winter conditions are also associated with high pest and disease survival rates, which could lead to increased pressure later in the season, the report notes.

Warm temperatures also saw snowpacks in the Alps reach historic lows and If not restored, water availability for irrigation downstream will be problematic come spring.

The weather forecast implies that weather conditions will be mainly influenced by transitioning large-scale atmospheric processes and a weakening La Nina.

Much warmer-than-usual air temperatures are forecast for most of Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and the Balkan Peninsula, while colder-than-usual daily air temperatures are expected in large parts of France.