Drought shrivels Czech harvest

Photo: European Commission

The biggest drought in over a decade is expected to take a heavy toll on the harvest and particularly small and medium sized farmers with inadequate irrigation facilities are expected to be hard hit. According to preliminary estimates Czech fruit and vegetable growers will see a 30 percent loss in profits.

Photo: European Commission
The driest summer in over a decade has Czech farmers counting their losses and animal breeders worried about the price of fodder. Already it is clear that grain and rape seed harvests will be lower and fruit and vegetable growers are expecting a thirty percent lower harvest than average, with losses expected to reach some 600 million crowns. Fruit and vegetable yields are lower and the quality of the products is worse. Moreover apricot, plum and apple growers are worried that the persisting drought may cause heavy fruit drops ahead of harvesting and further reduce yields.

While some farmers will see at least part of their investments back, others have had to write off this years’ harvest altogether. For instance the onion harvest in southern Moravia is practically non-existent although onion plantations cover an area of fifteen hundred hectares, more than any other vegetable grown in the region. Already the country is importing onions to cover demand.

The yields of corn –used primarily as fodder for animals – has also been hard hit with the plants at half or a third of their usual size. Other fodder plants have also been affected. In areas where there are two to three harvests of crops only the first was good. The second was 20 to 30 percent lower and the third will either be 50 percent lower or will have to be written off altogether.

This year’s lower grain harvest should incur losses of five to six billion crowns although the country will remain self-sufficient. The 2015 potato harvest will also be twenty to thirty percent lower than average. Wine growers are likewise counting their losses.

The south Moravian agricultural region has been particularly hard hit with the local harvest expected to be 65 percent lower than average and farmers say they will need help from the state to tide them over. The Czech Farmers Association has asked the government for 750 million crowns in drought compensation. Such aid would have to be approved by the EU and would only go to those who suffered significant losses.