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LUXEMBOURG DROUGHT – IMPORTANT AGRICULTURAL LOSS

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Minister of the Environment Carole Dieschbourg gives an update on the impact of the drought that Luxembourg has been experiencing for several months due to the low winter rainfall and late spring frosts.

It appears that Luxembourg’s agriculture is particularly affected and as such confirms the strong call of vigilance that its Ministry jointly with that of Sustainable Development issued on 31 May.

The Minister provides in detail:

Agriculture

• Permanent grasslands: losses are very high. The first cut representing 40% of the annual production is delayed and markedly reduced due to drought combined with cold. In the field trials of the Technical Service of Agriculture, the losses amount to about 30%. Livestock grazing has been delayed resulting in prolonged silage consumption and a decrease in forage reserves for next winter. However, the quality is very good because of the high solar radiation and the delayed maturation;

• winter cereals: there are losses to be feared due to water stress and cold. In addition, there may be a nitrogen deficiency “induced” by the lack of rain necessary to dissolve and absorb the nitrogen brought by the fertilizers. Water stress is most marked on sandy or shallow soils. For barley, shortened ears are to be feared for all cereals, a reduction in the number of tillers and therefore the number of plants per hectare. The wheats are stunted and the tillering has been insufficient. The gel may have destroyed parts of corn. It is still too early to estimate the damage that will certainly vary greatly depending on the pedoclimatic conditions and the variety. Valleys, shaded areas and basins were significantly more exposed;

• spring cereals: the emergence is irregular in places, the situation is to be followed. Spring barley has obviously suffered from the cold but it is too early to see any damage;

• rapeseed: the cold may have destroyed flowers, but it is necessary to follow the development in the weeks to come. Prolonged flowering probably compensated for the damage. There are, however, some damages due to drought in the autumn which led to an irregular emergence and insufficient development before the visible winter so far;

• maize: the seeding conditions are very good, damage is not yet established;

• potatoes: the conditions of planting are very good, the development is slowed down or even stopped but damage is not to be feared for the moment;

Arboriculture (damage mainly due to frost)

• stone fruit: the damage is very important or even total;

• pome fruits: the damage is mainly in intensive orchards, the amount of damage varies according to region and variety. Damage probably exceeds 30%, losses much more serious (-70%) are to be feared in places. The flowers are frozen and pollinator insects are insufficient. We have to wait for weeks to come to make a more concrete estimate. Drought has probably increased frost damage to tree bark, creating cracks and therefore entry gates for fungal diseases (eg canker);

Horticulture and market gardening

Watering costs are exceptional following the persistent drought since the fall.

• asparagus: there is frost damage and yields are decreased;

• strawberries: flowers are frozen and yields are significantly reduced. We must wait for the coming weeks because the late bloom will compensate some of the losses.

Viticulture

Manual irrigation is currently necessary to avoid the decline of young vines planted this year. The vines in 2nd and 5th year of planting have not yet shown any serious symptoms to this day. The problem would worsen rapidly if the drought persisted. Large crop losses would be the consequence in young vines below 10 years of age, which corresponds to an area of ​​about 200 ha of vineyards.

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