Western European crops boosted by mild weather this winter, but warmer temperatures could facilitate pest development, leave crops more vulnerable to frosts, analysts say

LOS ANGELES , January 11, 2012 () – Analysts reported that mild weather this winter, which has caused accelerated crop growth in Western Europe, could potentially damage crops damage later by facilitating pest development and leaving crops more vulnerable to frosts, Reuters reported on Jan. 11.

The French meteorological office reported 2011, which was the warmest year since 1900, saw the warmest December since 2000.

Jean-Charles Deswarte of Arvalis, a French grain institute, current crop growth is roughly equivalent to the crop growth that one would normally expect to see in mid-spring.

"If the weather stays mild we will have an early harvest with favourable crop prospects,” Deswarte said, “If the cold comes we could go from very little damage, in the event of a moderate and progressive fall in temperatures, to a lot of damage if there is an abrupt drop in temperatures."

In Britain, where crops are also more advanced than usual, there are fears that disease will damage crops.

Susan Twining, a crop consultant at environmental consultant group ASDA, said that farmers may start using fungicides earlier this year than they have in years past.

In Germany, where frost is generally a major threat to winter crops, winter grains and rapeseed have benefited from the unusually mild winter.

In Italy, there are concerns that the dry and mild conditions could reduce water reserves, potentially lowering them so much that there will not be enough water left for the spring and summer.

2011 was the warmest year that Spain has experienced in 40 years.

Although “seedlings are sprouting more or less normally,” said a spokesperson for the Asaja farmers' union in Spain, “the lack of rain and above all snow, which breaks up the soil, makes it harder for them to grow.”

The primary source of this article is Reuters, London, England, on Jan. 11, 2012.

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