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Drought threatens wheat crops in Spain

origin 1A plant is photographed on cracked earth after the water level dropped in the Sau Reservoir, about 100km (62 miles) north of Barcelona, ​​Spain on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 ©Emilio Morenatti/Copyright 2023 AP . All rights reserved.

Farmers in southern Europe are facing a crop crisis with months of drought threatening this year’s harvests and with some Spanish ecologists warning the country may soon be unable to support cereal crops such as wheat and barley .

“Irreversible damage has been done to more than 3.5 million hectares of crops,” warned the main Spanish farmers’ association COAG, raising the alarm on a trend that is being observed in much of the country.

The Spanish Government’s National Drought Committee will meet on Wednesday April 19 to discuss the problem.

“If rainfall does not improve within a few days, the production of rain-fed crops, especially winter cereals, will be greatly reduced,” said Sergio Vicente-Serrano, a researcher at the Pyrenean Ecology Institute in Zaragoza.

“If it continues like this, logically, the harvest will decrease and therefore prices will rise. It should not be forgotten that drought is a characteristic phenomenon of the Mediterranean climate, which is not something new, linked to the global warming process, and not a process that we have experienced only in recent decades. But the problem is that in recent years we have also suffered from a lack of rainfall against the backdrop of a significant increase in temperature.”

Winter and summer drought in Europe

Other European countries also face this problem. A map of current droughts in Europe compiled by the Copernicus Climate Change Service showed warnings of low soil moisture in many southern regions of the continent in January.

origin 1Samantha Burgess, Copernicus on climate changeRockedBuzz via Euronews

“Normally, particularly in southern European countries, we expect an autumn and winter recharge of rain,” said Samantha Burgess, Associate Director of Copernicus. “That didn’t happen this year for many of those countries. So, we’re about to go into that agricultural season, the growing season, with very low soil moisture.

Growers compete with other sectors for a share of the supply. The French energy sector uses water in hydroelectric plants, but also as a coolant for nuclear reactors.

After the driest winter in 60 years, the French government has decided to impose restrictions on water use in February and March.

The Copernicus Climate Change Service says that new solutions need to be explored.

“We also need to look for new technologies that use less water and then really try to recycle as much water or have less impact on available water,” said Samantha Burgess.

The Italian government is preparing an aid package worth 7.8 billion euros and a new water supply plan after the low water level in its longest river, the Po. As a result, millions of Italians have faced restrictions on the use of water.