Austrian farmers worried about harvest due to high temperatures

Austrian farmers worried about harvest due to high temperatures

Plant growth is stunted due to rising heat, says agronomist

By Timo Kirez

GENEVA (AA) – Austrian farmers are worried about this year's harvest due to high temperatures.

The big dilemma with heat is that plant growth is stunted, Manfred Weinhappl, director of plant cultivation at the Lower Austrian Chamber of Agriculture, told public broadcaster ORF on Friday.

The agricultural expert pointed out that fruits and grains should normally form during the summer months. But this is difficult with the current temperatures, said Weinhappl, adding that soybean plants, sunflowers, and oil pumpkin are particularly hard hit.

Fruit trees or grapevines, on the other hand, cope better with the temperatures in comparison because their roots reach deeper into the soil and can, therefore, better access the water reservoirs, he said.

According to the expert, in view of climate change, more and more farmers in Austria are relying on species that can cope better with high levels of drought, while crops with high water requirements are increasingly being pushed back.

However, one should not expect miracles from restructuring, he cautioned.

High temperatures over a longer period of time with too little water at the same time are not sustainable for any crop, Weinhappl emphasized.

But it is not only Austria that is affected.

On Thursday, the EU farmers' and cooperatives' associations Copa and Cogeca dramatically lowered their originally positive outlook for the 2023 grain harvest in the EU due to rapidly deteriorating weather conditions.

They expected possibly the worst result since 2007 and 10% less crop volume than the average of the past five years. This would leave many farmers unable to cover their production costs, which is why the associations are urgently calling on the EU Commission to take immediate action to address the difficult situation in 2023 and its consequences for 2024.

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