A Look at European Crop Production

July 1, 2015 04:37 PM
A Look at European Crop Production

Europe has some similarities and differences when it comes to row crop farming compared to the U.S. Two weeks ago I visited Europe to tour a few dairies in Germany and also take some vacation in several other countries. During my time there I saw a lot of crop fields traveling between major cities.

While in eastern Germany I visited a cooperative farm and learned about their row crop operation. Crops raised on the roughly 3,300 acres of arable land included: wheat, barley, oats, triticale, rye, rapeseed, alfalfa and corn silage.

The barley could be grown for both brewing quality and also feed grains for animal production. Wheat was typically destined for food, but some was used as silage. Corn and alfalfa were both destined for a feed ration.


Here is a run down of the production for some of crops grown on the farm near Teichröda over the past 10 years:

  • Wheat
    • 39 bushels per acre
    • In 2014 the average was 46.4 bushels per acre
  • Cowpeas
    • 20 bushels per acre
  • Corn Silage
    • 140 bushels per acre
    • Approximately 20 to 23 tons of silage per acre
  • Rapeseed (from 2005-2009)
    • 24 bushels per acre

This barley looks like it is ready to harvest near Weimar, Germany.

When comparing the yields for the area I was in I found it to be similar to my region of eastern Kansas where we also have rolling hills and a soil texture like eastern Germany.

The only real differences were rainfall tends to be more frequent but not as severe and the temperature does not get as hot or cold.

Corn growth in Germany seems to be lagging behind where much of the Midwest would be at, but there aren't near the heat units.

Of the five countries I visited I only saw corn grown in Germany. It was predominately soybeans, wheat, barely and oats that could be seen when riding the train between the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Occasionally, a field of rapeseed or alfalfa would appear.

Here are some of the photos I snapped while riding the train between countries:

This field of soybeans in Belgium didn't have quite the leaf growth I had seen in France or the Netherlands, but it still looked like a nice stand.

Here is a freshly worked field in northern France. I was told no-till drills are not commonly used in Europe, so many fields are still worked with a disk.

This field of soybeans in the Netherlands sits next to a field of wheat. Both looked to be in excellent shape. 

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