German Grains Wilt Under Europe's Drought

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A historic drought has battered European agriculture in 2018 in what German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Kloeckner is calling “a weather incident of national extent". The government has set aside €340 million to subsidize German farmers for their low yields. As it stands, the drought has threatened the existence of nearly 10,000 German farms.

Total German grain production is forecast to fall 16 percent from the 2017 crop, and Germany will likely have to become a net grain importer to meet demand for livestock feed grain. Wheat and barley production are set to fall 18 and 11 percent, respectively, but planting intentions for both crops for the 2019/20 harvest looks promising amid rising global prices. Parched soils have impeded rapeseed plantings, prompting German farmers to allot more acreage to wheat and barley. As a result, rapeseed acreage could fall 200,000 hectares to make room for more profitable grains.

Soybeans and soybean-meal imports from the United States for use in feed are also expected to rise due to cheap prices and a US bumper crop. At the moment, the quantity of soybeans Germany will purchase is unclear, but the development nonetheless looks positive for US soybean farmers. With Gro Intelligence, subscribers can easily stay up-to-date on international grain trade flows, planting intentions, and growing conditions.

The map on the left illustrates the degree that evapotranspiration currently differs from a median value established over a 10-year period, a measurement known as evapotranspiration anomaly, or ETa. The preponderance of red indicates a low percentage of evapotranspiration, which factors together water loss through soil evaporation and plant transpiration. The chart on the right is a drought indicator, based on ETa anomalies. Values from -2 to zero indicate drought to normal conditions, and values above zero indicate normal to wet conditions.

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