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German grain harvest, again below average

According to the president of the Association of German Farmers, the precipitation in recent weeks has ensured the yield of wheat.


Machinery, harvesting grain.

The German Farmers' Association (DBV) predicts a grain harvest of around 43 million tons. This means that expectations are slightly below the average of 2015 to 2019 of 44.4 million tons and around four percent below the previous year's result (44.3 million tons). “We expect a slightly below-average harvest with large regional differences. Due to the precipitation of the past weeks, a certain relaxation has occurred overall. For the autumn crops, the summer months are crucial, in which we need sufficient rain, since there are no water reserves in the soil. Our livestock farms also urgently need to build up sufficient feed reserves again, ”says Joachim Rukwied, President of the German Farmers' Association.

Grain harvest is among very changeable

Growing vegetation conditions. Last autumn the drought ended with extensive rainfall, which replenished the soil water reserves. After a mild winter, however, the grain stocks that had been well developed up until then suffered from the significantly too dry March and April. “The cooler May and the rainfall in June prevented major losses in yield for winter wheat. On the other hand, the rainfall came too late for the winter barley, ”explains Rukwied on the effects of weather on cereals. Extreme heat waves could still have a negative impact on winter wheat these days, since the grain filling, which is important for the yield, no longer takes place at high temperatures and lack of water.

The German grain harvest grows on an area of ​​6.2 million hectares. This means that the cereal acreage for the 2020 harvest is almost 3 percent smaller than in the previous year. With a cultivated area of ​​2.84 million hectares, winter wheat remains the most important type of grain in Germany. However, the cultivation of winter wheat declined by 215,000 hectares, or seven percent, last autumn due to the wet sowing conditions last autumn. Since winter wheat is one of the most profitable cereals, the reduced acreage also has a significant impact on the expected harvest volume overall.

The cultivation of winter rape was expanded by 100,000 hectares to 953,000 hectares compared to the previous year, but clearly misses the average area of ​​1.2 million hectares between 2015 and 2019. The reason for this is that at the time of rapeseed sowing in August / September 2019 it was still far too dry. In addition, the cultivation of rapeseed is associated with higher yield fluctuations due to the lack of control options for important rape pests, which has made the cultivation of rapeseed economically less attractive. This is an unfortunate development in view of the loosening up of crop rotations, which are often rich in cereals.

For the upcoming grain harvest, the German farmers hope for constant summer weather conditions. For the crops to be harvested in autumn, maize, potatoes and sugar beet, on the other hand, an adequate water supply will be necessary in the coming months so that these crops can develop their yield potential. A sufficient water supply is also essential for livestock farms so that a good basic forage and silage maize harvest can be brought in.

After two too dry years, feed reserves no longer exist on farms

The fruit and vegetable sector is dependent on the use of seasonal workers like no other. Despite the closed borders triggered by the corona pandemic, it was possible to bring over 30,000 people to Germany by plane through a special regulation by the federal government. Nevertheless, a reduction in the harvest volume of 30 percent can be expected for asparagus, for example. The reason is the lack of harvest helpers and the occasional outage of the catering trade.

The DBV creates its harvest forecast based on surveys among the 18 state farmers' associations regarding their current yield estimates.

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