USDA: Freezing Temps in Europe Make Crops Vulnerable to Winterkill

February 14, 2012 05:36 AM

USDA's Foreign Ag Service (FAS) says freezing temps in Europe may have damaged wheat and rapeseed crops given the lack of a protective snowcover. Wheat and rapeseed in western Poland and eastern Germany are most vulnerable to potential winterkill.


"Extremely cold temperatures began to engulf the European continent beginning around the 30th of January. In many crop-growing regions, temperatures dropped below critical values for winterkill damage. The cold air mass started in the east over Poland and Romania and pushed into France, moderating as it tracked west," says FAS. "Below-normal temperatures are expected to continue in the near future. It is possible that areas of widespread damage could have occurred in areas of the European wheat and rapeseed belt, but it is hard to ascertain damage at this point."

FAS says most concerning is western Poland and eastern Germany, where low temperatures have reached -20°C and below, with little or no snowcover to insulate the dormant crops. "Areas of Slovakia, Austria and the Czech Republic may have also sustained substantial damage because of a lack of snowcover and temperatures approaching -20°C," says the agency. "Hungary recorded temperatures around -15°C and had no snowcover until February 4th when a snowstorm markedly improved its snow coverage. Western Germany, France, and the Low Countries were a little warmer, experiencing minimum temperatures from -10°C to -15°C, but they could have also suffered damage."


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