| 13.6°C Dublin

Parched Europe: Grain crops, power stations and rivers are choked by heat

Close

A barge navigates low water levels on the Waal River, Netherlands. Photograph: Peter Boer/Bloomberg

A barge navigates low water levels on the Waal River, Netherlands. Photograph: Peter Boer/Bloomberg

A barge navigates low water levels on the Waal River, Netherlands. Photograph: Peter Boer/Bloomberg

Searing temperatures are shrivelling maize crops across Europe, in the latest sign of a deepening crisis that spans everything from Rhine River transport to Spanish olive growers.

Sown in the spring, maize is under stress due to a lack of rain as the region struggles with rolling heat waves.

Three-quarters of Romania, Europe’s biggest producer, is affected by drought of varying severity, while major grower France had its driest July on record.

Farmers in parts of eastern Germany could lose their entire crop.

“Last weekend, I saw fields where the corn was just above my knees,” said Helmut Messner of the German grower committee. 

“It’s partially already brown, so there is no photosynthesis, because the leaves are already dead. Usually at this time of year it’s 2.5 to 3 metres tall.”

Europe’s fields are the latest casualties of weeks of dry, hot weather that has also sharply reduced water flows in key rivers, such as the Rhine, Rhone, Danube and Po.

That’s crippling both irrigation and navigation, curbing coal transport and French nuclear output just as Europe tries to cut its dependence on Russian gas.

Moscow’s invasion has also throttled shipments of maize from Ukraine as the intense summer heat curbs the European Union’s own crop.

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of business.

This field is required


Most Watched





Privacy