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Europe’s Heat Wave Threatens Corn Crops at Critical Growth Juncture

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Scorching temperatures continuing across Europe are baking corn crops during their critical pollination window, threatening to reduce the region’s corn harvest and drive up its corn import needs. 

An aggregation of growing conditions in all of the European Union’s corn-growing areas shows that the Gro vegetative health index, a key indicator of plant health, is at one of its lowest levels in more than two decades, according to Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture. 

In addition, soil moisture levels for acres planted to corn are at their lowest since at least 2010. Growing conditions are poor in each of the EU’s top three producers — France, Romania, and Spain.  

View a Navigator display weighted for EU corn planted area here, or schedule a demo with our sales team here to learn how Climate Risk Navigator can be tailored to your organization’s needs.

Gro’s vegetative health index for EU corn-planted areas this year (blue line) is near a two-decade low, as shown in this display from the Gro Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture. Current index readings are comparable to 2007 (red line), when EU corn crops faltered.

High temperatures can stress corn plants anytime during the growing cycle, but they can especially damage crop yields during pollination. EU countries are forecast to continue to experience above average temperatures for the reminder of July, although some rainfall is expected in the coming week. 

A comparable year of hot and dry conditions was 2007, when Gro’s vegetative health index for EU corn-planted areas was at a similarly low level at this time of year. As a result, EU corn production slumped 11% in 2007 from a year earlier, and corn imports topped 14 million tonnes, nearly double the previous year’s total. 

EU corn imports have grown strongly in the past two decades — reaching 16 million tonnes last year — amid a surge in domestic corn consumption for animal feed and food and industrial uses. Back in 2007, the EU imported corn primarily from Brazil, but more recently has relied on Ukraine for most corn imports. Currently, however, much of Ukraine’s exports are being blocked by its war with Russia. 

Meanwhile, worldwide production of corn, a key feed grain and an important industrial input, is forecast to decline this year for the first time in five years, putting additional strain on import-reliant countries. 

In the US, the biggest corn producer and exporter, reduced acreage planted to corn and hot, dry conditions are weighing on the crop, and Gro’s Yield Forecast Model and interactive balance sheet forecasts a corn production decline in the high single digits.  

One bright spot for global production is Brazil, the second-largest corn exporter, where Gro’s Brazil Corn Yield Forecast Model indicates a double-digit increase in corn production 

What to Follow Next in Gro: 

The Gro Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture displays current and historical growing conditions weighted for specific crops worldwide, including European Union corn

Gro’s global Corn Yield Forecast Models and interactive balance sheets predict supply and demand for about 80% of the world’s corn crops, including the United States, the top producer and exporter, and Brazil, the No. 2 exporter.   


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