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DROUGHT

German potato prices set to spike due to drought

Two summers in a row of drought are causing Germany’s potato supply to dwindle - and prices to rise.

German potato prices set to spike due to drought
A potato in a harvested field in Duisburg on August 1st. Photo: DPA

Farmers throughout Germany, and especially in the country’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, are desperately hoping for rain in August.

“If it continues to stay hot and dry, the problem will become very big,” said Horst-Peter Karos, the head of the Association of Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Preparation (BOGK) regarding the country’s staple crop.  

He added that potato prices in North Rhine-Westphalia have already risen by around a third compared with the previous year.

Germany is in the midst of its harvest season, which stretches from March through October each year. 

Historically low yield

Last year, Germany’s harvest was already historically low, with 8.7 million tonnes of potatoes – the smallest yield in 28 years. 

The impact trickled down to consumers. In November 2018, supermarket shoppers had to pay around 84 cents per kg for potatoes in small packages, whereas the price per kg the year before was 55 cents.

SEE ALSO: Drought causes potato prices to rise by more than half – and they have more flaws

The exact average prices of potatoes Germany-wide are not yet known and dependent on what the harvest in the final stretch of summer brings.

A potato after a harvest in Duisburg, North-Rhine Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Currently, the groundwater level had fallen significantly due to two summers’ worth of droughts.

The heatwaves of recent weeks in July and August has only made the conditions worse, according to Karos, especially since potatoes cannot grow at extreme temperatures.

Relief on the horizon?

The impact will also be felt by the processing industry this fall, said Karos, as products such crisps and chips could become more expensive.

Last year, a few local establishments with potato products raised their prices to reflect the increase. 

For the upcoming weekend, however, stormy weather could bring relief to farmers. In North Rhine-Westphalia, Saturday and Sunday will see stormy weather, with 15 to 25 liters of rain per square metre expected to fall. 

Hail and strong gusts of wind up to 70 km per area are also expected in the area.  

Vocabulary

Potato – (die) Kartoffel; (der) Erdapfel (mostly in south Germany and Austria)

Harvest losses – (die) Ernteeinbußen

Harvest – (die) Ernte 

Drought – (die) Dürre

Precipitation – (der) Niederschlag

Ground water level – (der) Grundwasserpegel

Fields – (die) Äcker 

Food processing industry – (die) Lebensmittelverarbeitungsindustrie 

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

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LEARNING GERMAN

Six German expressions to entice your Wanderlust

The German word 'Wanderlust' means "the desire to travel" and is used even in other languages. Here are some of the other words commonly used in Germany to describe the nation's love affair with travelling.

Six German expressions to entice your Wanderlust

Germans are very connected to nature and a lot of the activities they routinely do, even in winter, involve staying outdoors. So it’s no wonder the language also reflects that passion for walking, travelling, and spending time in nature.

Some of the German words that are most famous to speakers of other languages reference this passion. Perhaps most notably, the term “Wanderlust” which has made its way to other dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster, with the definition “a strong longing for or impulse toward wandering”.

The word is composed of “wandern“, which means to hike or roam about and “lust“, meaning “pleasure or delight”.

READ ALSO: Holiday like a local: Five of the best camping regions in Germany

This is not the only unique expression the German language has related to travelling. Another of the hard to translate ones is “Fernweh“. It comes from “fern“, meaning “far”, and “Weh“, meaning “pain”. It is used to describe the longing for far-off places – in contrast to “Heimweh”, a feeling many immigrants might be very attuned to and could be translated to homesickness.

The German language also has several interesting and even funny expressions for walkers and travellers alike. The Local talked with German teacher and travel enthusiast Lutz Michaelis to collect a few of the best expressions.

“So weit dich deine/mich meine Füße tragen”

It literally means “as far as my feet will take me” (or alternatively, “as far as your feet will take you”). It is often said as an answer to the question, “where are you going?”.

READ ALSO: Waldeinsamkeit: Five of the best forest walks around Berlin

“Die Sieben-Meilen-Stiefel anhaben”

“To wear the seven-league boots”. This means being able to walk long distances fast. Lutz explains that it was actually based on a trope in French mythology, in which magical boots could help the wearer cover long distances in a short amount of time. Having been used in The Little Thumb by Charles Perrault, the term was brought into the German language by writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

“Wer rastet, der rostet”

The translation would be “he who rests, rusts”. It is used in the German language to say that being in motion is a good thing, not only with travelling but also to incentivise people to keep learning new things.

“Das Reisen kost’t Geld, Doch sieht man die Welt.”

It’s a very common rhyme used to show the downsides and benefits of travelling: “travelling costs money, but one sees the world”.

“Reisende soll man nicht aufhalten.”

It literally means that “travellers shouldn’t be stopped”. However, Lutz explains that the expression is not only used to refer to travellers but also to anyone that might be going through a transitional situation – such as someone wanting to change their jobs, for example.

Rhododendren park Bremen

Rhododendrons bloom in the Rhododendron Park in Bremen. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

“der Weg ist das Ziel.”

One of the most beautiful ones, and many languages have their own version of it. It translates to “the road is the destination”.

Of course, coming back home, especially for those suffering from Heimweh, can also be something beautiful. One common saying is “Wiedersehen macht Freude“, which means that to meet again brings happiness, used among those looking forward to seeing someone again after a long trip.

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

And one more…

In Germany, there is a common joke about finding German people abroad. The rhyme goes “Hüte dich vor Sturm und Wind, und Deutschen, die im Ausland sind“, which could be translated as “Be on your guard for storm and wind, and Germans in a foreign land”.

“It refers both to the bad behaviour of Germans on holidays or travels and a dark joke and a funny nod to the fact that German troops have invaded other countries”, Lutz, who is a German himself, explains.

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