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News article23 March 2020

Exceptionally mild winter and start of spring benefits crops

Mild winter is promoting early spring re-growth, with potential yield benefits in central, eastern and northern Europe. Rainfall needed in southern Europe.

MARS bulletin - Warmest meteorological winter on record in much of Europe.
Warmest meteorological winter on record in much of Europe.
© European Union, Eurostat-GISCO, 2020

According to the March 2020 issue of the JRC MARS Bulletin (PDF) the 2019/2020 winter was one of the warmest in its records (since 1979).

In most regions, mean daily temperature exceeded the long-term-average by 2 °C to 4 °C.

Even higher temperature anomalies prevailed in eastern and northern Europe.

Benefits, so far, to crops in northern, central and eastern Europe

As a consequence of the mild winter, winter crops in central, eastern and northern Europe are generally in good condition. Warmer-than-usual weather is promoting early spring re-growth,with potential yield benefits.

Downsides attached to the mild winter are that increased pest and disease pressure can be expected later in spring, and that early developed crops — and especially fruit trees — might be more vulnerable to spring frost events.

Rainfall needed in southern Europe

Significant lack of precipitation is observed in the main durum wheat producing regions (southern Italy, large parts of Spain, Greece), as well as in large parts of southern and eastern Romania, northern Bulgaria and in the Maghreb region.

However, in most of these regions, sufficient rain is forecast to avoid imminent impact on crop yield potentials.

Excessive wetness in north-western Europe

In contrast, important grain producing regions in north-western Europe (France, Benelux countries, Germany, United Kingdom) faced excessively wet conditions, especially in February and the beginning of March.

In these regions, winter crops often did not yet establish well and necessary field operations were hampered.

Spring crops sowings are also delayed in these regions and the more settled weather forecast for the second half of March may not be sufficient to allow field operations to fully catch up.

Information at country level and crop yield forecasts

A more detailed overview of how agrometeorological conditions develop and how crops are faring at country level can be found in the JRC MARS Bulletin.

In this issue, a first estimate is also given of crop yield forecasts at national level, which at this early stage of the season are mostly based on an analysis of historical trends.

Increasingly accurate forecasts can be expected as the season unfolds.

Further information

JRC-MARS Bulletin Crop monitoring in Europe

Subscribe for the latest issue of the MARS Bulletin from the Agri4Cast Toolbox.

Related Content

JRC-MARS Bulletin Crop monitoring in Europe

Subscribe to the MARS Bulletin (via Agri4Cast Toolbox).


Publication date
23 March 2020