Rain has been fairly scarce in many areas of Germany in the past few weeks. Do farmers who have suffered from drought in recent years fear for their crops?
The situation is not yet tragic, Andreas Promser, an agricultural meteorologist at the German Weather Service (DWD) in Offenbach, told dpa. Most plants will still deal well with the moisture remaining in the soil. If it doesn’t rain by the end of May, that could change.
Precipitation in winter is above average, Promser said. The floors were full of water. But then came an “exceptionally dry rally”. The rain in April initially eased the situation again. “Under 20, 30 cm dry there is enough moisture in the soil from last winter.”
Prolonged dehydration is a problem
Andreas Marx, head of the climate office in central Germany and responsible for drought monitoring at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, emphasized that droughts have a negative impact if they persist for a long time. A delay in plant growth can occur in areas with particularly dry soil. However, at this point in time, that doesn’t have to mean that returns will be low either.
An example is 2014 which saw a very dry April, but above-average returns. In addition, the situation in deep soil layers is more relaxed than on the surface. However, this does not apply to all regions in Germany.
Bottom is generally dark brown dots
“However, if you look at large shrubs and especially trees, the situation is different,” Marks told dpa. Because for the so-called total soil, which also takes into account the deep layers of soil covered by the roots of the tree, drought monitoring Dark brown points. This applies to Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony and parts of North Rhine-Westphalia.
However, this is not a new drought event, but rather areas where soil moisture has decreased since 2018 and has not been sufficiently replenished since, for example in the winter months, Marks explained. In damaged forests, damage should already be expected in the summer of 2022.
Hardly any rain in the north
About four weeks ago, meteorologists had been monitoring a “very uneven distribution” of precipitation, Promser explained: in the north there had been almost no rain for weeks, in the south there were showers and thunderstorms. “In the north and in the center, soil moisture is well below the usual values for mid-May.” In April, for example, only 25 liters of rain per square meter fell in northeastern Germany adding to the already existing shortage of precipitation.
That’s not a big deal right now for agriculture, said DWD Promser, a meteorologist: Cereals planted before winter have deep roots that can reach into moist layers in the ground. Newly planted crops such as sugar beets, corn or soybeans are more important because their roots are not yet sufficiently developed: “they do not reach the wet layers.”
Wildfire risk ‘moderate’
In most areas, the risk of wildfires is “moderate”. The leaves are still green and not susceptible to fire. Promser said that the bushfire index in the east could rise to an all-time high in the next few days.
The German Forest Protection Association has appealed to all forest visitors to be vigilant and responsible: “Abide by the legal ban on smoking in the forest. Barbecues and open fires are prohibited in the forest” and “Keep forest paths and access roads free – they serve as escape paths”, the protectors’ call reads Jungle.
Summer weekend again
The meteorologist does not see any fundamental change in the short term: it will remain dry at the weekend, there may be thunderstorms at the beginning of next week, but precipitation will remain locally normally. “No heavy rain looms.”
In fact, summer weather is looming on the weekend, on Saturday with maximum temperatures between 22 and 27 degrees. It is said that only single showers or thunderstorms were in southernmost Germany that day, as predicted by DWD. It’s supposed to be warmer on Sunday, in the southwest up to 30 degrees is possible locally, as on May 12, the first hot day of the year. According to the forecast, it should not rain anywhere in Germany on Sunday.
Europe was also affected by the drought
The United Nations submitted its drought report only a few days ago. He explained how severe the consequences are when drought turns into drought – not only in Sahel countries.
In the last century, 45 major droughts were recorded in Europe, affecting millions of people and causing total economic damage of 26.4 billion euros. About 15 percent of the Earth’s land area and about 17 percent of the European Union’s population are now affected by drought, according to a United Nations report. (dpa)
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