Weather and mice hit grain harvests

Farmers across Germany are preparing for a difficult year as heavy rain and storms – and an explosion in the mouse population – take their toll on grain harvests.

Weather and mice hit grain harvests
Photo: DPA

Current harvesting work has been interrupted by the rain recently, while harvests were already expected to have been hit by the spring frosts which damaged many fields.

Lower Saxony’s state farmers’ association said it was expecting a ten percent drop in grain harvest this year compared to last, which itself was a disappointing one. “With 5.1 million tonnes of harvested grain, that was already an abysmal year,” said a spokeswoman.

Farmers in Brandenburg, Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein said it had been too wet recently to expect a good result.

And in Thuringia the wet weather was compounded by a mouse plague. “Where the weather was not so awful, the mice came,” said Reinhard Kopp from the Thuringia farmers’ association.

Current harvesting efforts in North Rhine-Westphalia have been interrupted by the weather, but a spokesman for the state chamber of commerce said the situation did not look so bad because nothing had been damaged by hail. “So far everything is still there,” he said.

Farmers in the more southern states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland Palatinate and Hesse say their grain suffered badly from the frost, while the spring was too dry, and they are now keen to see the rain.

There are fears in Bavaria that the dry May could result in a smaller harvest, while up north in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern farmers are happy with the current wet weather.

Vegetable farmers have also been pleased by recent deluges as it means they have had to water their crops less.

The Local/DPA/hc

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What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

Parts of Germany will see another heatwave this week as temperatures soar.

What temperatures can we expect in Germany this week?

The German Weather Service (DWD) has predicted that the mercury will climb in some regions of to around 34C this week. 

“After low pressure ‘Karin’ gave parts of Germany rain, sometimes in large quantities, high pressure ‘Piet’ is now back in pole position,” said meteorologist Lars Kirchhübel of the DWD.

This high pressure zone will dominate the weather in large parts of western and central Europe over the coming days, the weather expert said, adding that it will reach Germany too. 

On Monday temperatures remained fairly cool across the country after a weekend of showers, but they are set to climb over the course of the week, particularly on Wednesday and Thursday. Forecasters predict it could reach 32C in Stuttgart and 33C in Cologne on Thursday. Locally, temperatures could reach 34C. 

However, from the Oder and Neisse rivers to the Erzgebirge mountains and southeast Bavaria, denser clouds and some showers are to be expected. This is due to a high-level low pressure system over the Balkan region, according to forecasters. Short showers are also possible in the Black Forest.

“In most of the rest of the country, high ‘Piet’ will be able to hold its ground,” said Kirchhübel.

READ ALSO: Heavy rain in Bavaria swells rivers, but flooding avoided

At the end of the week, thunderstorms are forecast but temperatures are expected to remain high. 

August in Germany ‘too dry’

According to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, August as a whole – apart from a few areas in eastern Germany – will be too dry compared to the multi-year average.

The Black Forest, the High Rhine and the Allgäu to the Bavarian Forest, however, are not expected to have any major problems due to the high rainfall of the past few days.

“Looking at Rhineland-Palatinate, the southern half of Hesse, the western half of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Franconia shows a different picture,” said Kirchhübel. In the last 30 days, only about 10 percent of the usual level of precipitation fell in some places.

“At some stations, no precipitation at all has been measured in August,” added Kirchhübel, referencing Würzburg as an example.

Rainfall at the weekend caused the water in the Rhine river to rise slightly. In Emmerich, the water level reached a positive value again after the historic low of the past few days: in the morning, it showed three centimetres – an increase of six centimetres compared to the previous day.

The water level also rose by several centimetres at the other measuring points in North Rhine-Westphalia: in Cologne, the level rose to 80cm and in Düsseldorf to 38cm.

READ ALSO: Damaged freighter blocks traffic at drought-hit Rhine

Despite this encouraging trend, the Waterways and Shipping Authority said it did not expect a huge improvement in water levels in the foreseeable future due to more hot weather coming.