Thu, Jul 25, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Paris suffering historic drought as heat wave hits

Bloomberg

People line up to dive into the sea pool of Saint-Malo in Brittany, France, on Tuesday as a new heat wave arrived in northern Europe.

Photo: AFP

Paris is going through its driest period in almost 150 years and temperatures across Europe are continuing to reach extreme levels, leaving scorched fields and farmers frustrated by another spell of bad weather.

In the east German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Christa-Maria Wendig is worried these once-rare droughts are becoming common.

She plans to give up planting rapeseed in the coming months because of the dry weather and the heat wave that has stunted her ripening corn crop.

“Our ponds are empty and the meadows withered,” she said.

As temperatures keep climbing across Europe this week, expected to peak today in Paris and London, the effects of extreme weather are becoming clearer.

This summer has already seen raging wildfires in Portugal and Spain, falling water levels on Germany’s Rhine River and irrigation restrictions in France.

Day-ahead electricity prices in France hit a five-month high on Tuesday. In Paris, temperatures yesterday were forecast to hit 42°C.

Electricite de France SA plans to halt two nuclear reactors at Golfech this week, as the Garonne River becomes too warm to cool the plant.

The company, which produces about three-quarters of France’s power, has said it would prepare nuclear plants to operate in more severe heat waves in the coming decades amid a changing climate.

In agriculture, the heatwave is having the biggest impact on corn fields, which are in a key growth stage. Yields would drop sharply if beneficial rains do not arrive soon, German grains handler Agravis Raiffeisen AG said.

Winter wheat and barley are already being collected and have escaped most of the bad weather.

Some farmers in France and Germany might harvest corn early as silage to build up their animal-feed supplies for the winter, rather than collecting the crops as grain to sell on the market, Strategie Grains analyst Laurine Simon said.

Forage stocks are already low after last year’s drought and Paris corn futures are up about 10 percent since late May.

In the east German state of Brandenburg, where farmers are contending with the third straight summer of drought conditions, industry representatives have called for emergency aid from the state and federal governments.

While the dry spell is not yet as severe as the one seen last year, farmers are still expecting smaller-than-usual grain harvests.

“There is no question of us relaxing,” Brandenburg LBV farmers’ association head Henrik Wendorff said.

“The kind of bumper harvest that would have enabled us to compensate for the harsh losses of the previous year won’t be there,” he said.

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