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Summer drought threatens harvest

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14:10 CEST+02:00
After the harsh winter and hot July, forecasts for this season's harvest in Sweden make difficult reading for the country's farmers.

Many parts of Sweden have been suffering dry spells with fields of grain starting to dry out, with crops ripening before they have had a chance to grow fully as a result.

"We expect a significantly reduced harvest in comparison with normal. Autumn crops were hit by the difficult winter and spring crops sown to replace them have had a bad start in some places. Now the drought has also struck," said Charlotte Elander, who is monitoring the harvest continually on behalf of farmer member organization Lantmännen.

According to Stig Persson, regional manager for the Federation of Swedish Farmers (Lantbrukarnas Riksförbund - LRF) rain is needed immediately with the province of Skåne in the south of Sweden reported to be in a particularly tough situation.

"The heat is starting to be felt. The cereal crops decline every day the drought continues. But it varies depending on how sensitive the land is," Persson said.

The Skåne county administrative board has issued restrictions on irrigation, which in most cases now require approval from the environmental court, adding further to the strain felt by farmers, especially for those who have water-intensive crops, vegetables and potatoes.

"It is too early to say that the harvest is lost, but the tendency is that it could as a result of the drought. As the situation is now sprinkling is a problem," said Marianne Andersson, a farmer growing cereals, sugar and seeds outside Trelleborg in the far south of Sweden.

Dairy farmers would appear to have coped better with the drought, even if grazing has now been hit, as the first fodder grass harvests were successful in many parts of the country.

"It's a bit too hot and too dry for me to be completely satisfied, but the first fodder grass harvest was pretty good. In this industry, we must learn to handle these situations and have the feed in reserve. So far, I am not particularly worried," said Håkan Lundgren, a dairy farmer from outside Västervik in south-eastern Sweden.

Gotland also enjoyed an abundant first fodder grass harvest.

"I think that the barns are pretty well stocked with grass. The problem of drought is not worse than what we are accustomed to. We almost always lose a grass crop," said Soren Isberg, a dairy farmer on the Baltic Sea island.

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