Planting in Southern Europe to be delayed by drought

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Planting in Southern Europe to be delayed by drought

An unusually warm and dry winter has led to a drought in Southern Europe, with the continent’s top produce growers delaying planting as water availability for agricultural activities is becoming increasingly scarce, Bloomberg reports.

Conditions are worsening for farmers in Italy and Portugal, with about 60% of the Spanish countryside severely affected by a dry spell that is wilting crops. 

Delayed planting is also expected to affect yield for fruits and vegetables in the region, as the commonwealth navigates its second consecutive drought.

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Lower volumes for staple foods such as tomatoes could also drive up prices, which have consistently stayed up in the past year even as inflation slows.

“Sowing in the Po River area (Italy) traditionally starts in late February or early March, but right now the soil is too dry,” said Massimiliano Giansanti, head of Italian farm group Confagricoltura.

Italy’s largest, Po River’s water levels reached a 70-year low last summer, with many crops in the area being lost to heat and dryness.

“The more we wait, though, the less we will get in terms of crops,” he warned.

Spain has already reported losses of more than 3.5 hectares of rain-fed grain crop, with nut orchards and vineyards also struggling due to the drought.

According to Giansanti, industry losses could reach up to €20 billion ($22 billion) in annual sales and almost €8 billion ($8.7 billion) in exports.

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