EU: Expected decrease of winter barley production due to acreage reduction

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Among the seven main producers of winter barley, Germany, France and the UK will probably record a lower production compared both to last year and the average of last five years, the European Comission Joint Research Centre reports in its MARS Bulletin. All these countries decreased their acreage. The acreage was also decreased in Poland and Romania (20 %) and they will likely face a reduction of their production compared to the last year harvest (but the figures are still higher than the last five-years average).
In Spain and Italy on the contrary the production will likely increase thanks to the increase of the acreage but also (mostly in the case of Spain) to the good yield forecast (+15 % compared to 2010), the comission said..
Among the other producers, the figures of production for Hungary and Belgium are very promising due to both the increase of acreage (+16 % in Belgium) and the yield forecast. In this group, except of Greece, Ireland and Slovenia, the yield forecast for the current season is better than last year.
The yield forecasts for Spain, Greece, Portugal and Belgium are based on scenario analysis, for the other countries the forecast is based on the trend.
Cold December in Western Europe, milder with large fluctuations in Eastern Europe, Black Sea basin and Russia.
According to the MARS Bulletin, crop conditions across Europe are judged satisfactory and no major concerns are detected. Western Europe experienced a cold December with anticipated winter crop dormancy and partially a lower biomass accumulation before the winter. It was milder than usual in Eastern Europe, Black Sea basin and Russia, but large fluctuations and harsh frost did occur negatively impacting on the crops in Russia and Ukraine. For EU 27 no particular frost kill concerns exist, snow covered the crops during cold temperatures in December and cold spells in January. Crops are vulnerable to late frosts due to rather mild temperatures in February.

Early start of the winter -partially underdeveloped crop status
Winter started around the end of November in Germany with plentiful snowfall and low temperatures. The first harsh frosts occurred around the first of December interrupting crop growth at an earlier stage as usual. As a consequence crops started winter dormancy in parts of Germany with less biomass accumulated than on average and have a risk of an underdeveloped root system with possible negative consequences in case of spring droughts. This in combination with the difficult sowing conditions last autumn due to over wet soils (especially the heavy soils in Niedersachsen) did lead to sub-optimal starting conditions for the re-growth of winter crops. A tailored N and S fertilization will be very important to help the crops.Temperatures in December were below the LTA, this holds for the average temperature as well as for minimum and maximum temperatures (with the exception of the South).
As a consequence no temperature sum accumulation took place in December until the 7/8th of January when temperatures rose again leading over to a rather mild period until 20th of January with cumulated temperatures well above the average.
In general January was milder than average. February has seen milder conditions in the south whereas in the north and the east it was colder than usual. For the water supply
Germany as a whole shows a cumulated surplus of rain of almost 20 % since November mostly accumulated throughout November and December. January and February don’t show large deviations from the long term average. Nevertheless soils should be saturated potentially creating problems on the heavy soils (e.g.Niedersachsen) for the coming field works.