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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

The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German

Once you've learned the basics of German, listening to podcasts is one of the best ways of increasing vocabulary and speeding up comprehension. Here are some of the best podcasts out there for German learners.

The best podcasts for learning and perfecting your German

STARTING OUT

Coffee Break German

Coffee Break German aims to take you through the basics of German in a casual lesson-like format. It is extremely easy to listen to. Each 20-minute episode acts as a mini-lesson, where German native Thomas teaches Mark Pendleton, the founder and CEO of Coffee Break Languages, the basics.

All phrases are broken down into individual words. After new phrases are introduced the listeners are encouraged to repeat them back to practise pronunciation.

The advantage of listening to this podcast is that the learner, Mark, begins at the same level as you. He is also a former high school French and Spanish teacher. He often asks for clarification of certain phrases, and it can feel as if he is asking the very questions you want answered.

You can also stream the podcast directly from the provider’s website, where they sell a supplementary package from the Coffee Break German Academy, which offers additional audio content, video flashcards and comprehensive lesson notes

German Pod 101

German Pod 101 aims to teach you all about the German language, from the basics in conversations and comprehension to the intricacies of German culture. German Pod 101 offers various levels for your German learning and starts with Absolute Beginner.

The hosts are made up of one German native and one American expat living in Germany, in order to provide you with true authentic language, but also explanations about the comparisons and contrasts with English. This podcast will, hopefully, get you speaking German from day one.

Their website offers more information and the option to create an account to access more learning materials.

Learn German by Podcast

This is a great podcast if you don’t have any previous knowledge of German. The hosts guide you through a series of scenarios in each episode and introduce you to new vocabulary based on the role-plays. Within just a few episodes, you will learn how to talk about your family, order something in a restaurant and discuss evening plans. Each phrase is uttered clearly and repeated several times, along with translations.

READ ALSO:

Learn German by Podcast provides the podcasts for free but any accompanying lesson guides must be purchased from their website. These guides include episode transcripts and some grammar tips. 

DEVELOPING YOUR GERMAN

Easy German

This podcast takes the form of a casual conversation between hosts Manuel and Cari, who chat in a fairly free-form manner about aspects of their daily lives. Sometimes they invite guests onto the podcast, and they often talk about issues particularly interesting to expats, such as: “How do Germans see themselves?”. Targeted at young adults, the podcasters bring out a new episode very three or four days.

News in Slow German

This is a fantastic podcast to improve your German listening skills. What’s more, it helps you stay informed about the news in several different levels of fluency.

The speakers are extremely clear and aim to make the podcast enjoyable to listen to. For the first part of each episode the hosts talk about a current big news story, then the second part usually features a socially relevant topic. 

A new episode comes out once a week and subscriptions are available which unlock new learning tools.

SBS German

This podcast is somewhat interesting as it is run by an Australian broadcaster for the German-speaking community down under. Perhaps because ethnic Germans in Australia have become somewhat rusty in their mother tongue, the language is relatively simple but still has a completely natural feel.

There is a lot of news here, with regular pieces on German current affairs but also quite a bit of content looking at what ties Germany and Australia together. This lies somewhere between intermediate and advanced.

A woman puts on headphones in Gadebusch, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Photo: dpa | Jens Büttner

PERFECTING YOUR GERMAN

Auf Deutsche gesagt

This is another great podcast for people who have a high level of German. The host, Robin Meinert, talks in a completely natural way but still manages to keep it clear and comprehensible.

This podcast also explores a whole range of topics that are interesting to internationals in Germany, such as a recent episode on whether the band Rammstein are xenophobic. In other words, the podcast doesn’t just help you learn the language, it also gives you really good insights into what Germans think about a wide range of topics.

Sozusagen

Bayern 2 present their podcast Sozusagen! for all those who are interested in the German language. This isn’t specifically directed at language learners and is likely to be just as interesting to Germans and foreigners because it talks about changes in the language like the debate over gender-sensitive nouns. Each episode explores a different linguistic question, from a discussion on German dialects to an analysis of political linguistics in Germany.

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