According to the April 2023 issue of the JRC MARS Bulletin – Crop monitoring in Europe, large parts of Europe experienced substantial rainfall during the review period (1 March to 17 April 2023), which was beneficial for the restoration of soil moisture and ground water levels, but in some cases caused substantial delay to sowing and other field operations. Drought conditions continued in northern Italy, and worsened in the Iberian Peninsula.
Water availability concerns affects farmers’ decisions on which crops to sow
In northern Italy and Spain, the sowing campaign of summer crops started with strong concerns about future water availability for irrigation, given the low capacity of water reservoirs. This has led to a substantial reduction in the extent of planted area and/or shifts from rice or maize to more drought-tolerant crops. Part of the rain-fed areas might not be sown at all.
Winter crops and spring barley are negatively impacted by the drought in Spain and Portugal, but are still in fair condition in Italy.
Abundant rain hampered field operations in the north
There was a pronounced rain surplus in much of the northern half of Europe, and in Türkiye. In most regions this was welcomed after the dry conditions experienced in February, but it caused substantial delays to the sowing of sugar beet, potatoes and/or spring barley in the British Isles, northern France, and the Benelux countries.
Yield forecasts still mainly based on historical trends
For most crops and countries – with winter crops and spring cereals in Spain and Portugal being the main exceptions – the yield forecasts presented in this Bulletin are still based on historical trends.