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Drought could cost Danish growers millions of euros

Danish news site ATL reports Danish growers are much affected by the ceaseless drought. If the drought lasts as long as in 1992, total losses could rise to millions of euros. Precipitation in Denmark is still a no-show, and many experts are already making comparisons with the extreme drought in 1992, when agricultural yields dropped by 23 per cent.

According to regional newspaper Fyens from Funen (link to Danish website), the drought affects growers of varying crops. For example, strawberry grower Niels Jacobsen uses his water cannons day and night. “I’ve been growing strawberries for ten years now, and I’ve never experienced a drought as extreme as right now. We irrigate as much as possible, but despite this, the strawberries sometimes still suffer sun damages. They get white spots and become more vulnerable,” says Jacobsen, whose water bill is becoming incredibly high.

Jacobsen is in the same boat as other fruit and vegetable growers on Funen. At Torup Bakkegård og Orelund, Jacob B. Jacobsen and his brother run one of the largest vegetable production companies in Denmark, and drought is becoming an ever-increasing problem for them as well. “Even when continually irrigating, the water can’t reach everywhere,” he says. His company comprises 1,500 hectares in total, and he grows, among other products, asparagus, peas, onions, lettuce, oxheart cabbage and strawberries, and except for asparagus, all of the crops are suffering from drought. “We irrigate where possible and where there’s the most need, but we can’t reach everywhere. That means we’ll have a lower yield and that some crops will be harvestable earlier. The strawberry season won’t last as long as normally. We normally pick until August, but we’ll finish a few weeks earlier this year, probably mid-July,” Jacobsen says.

The situation on Funen is even more dire because few growers have permission to irrigate their crops. Only the companies on sandy soils have irrigation permits. Leif Hagelskjær, department manager plant production for agricultural consultancy Centrovice, talked about this during an interview with local television channel TV2. “The situation is critical for most places on Funen. Some places have had some rain, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough,” he says.

But Funen isn’t the only place with problems. The rest of the country also faces drought, according to all sorts of regional news sources. For example, potato grower Johnny Larsen from Blemmemølle, on the isle of Bornholm, is also worried. When potato plants don’t receive enough water, the potatoes remain small. Larsen gets water for irrigation from a nearby clay well. He installed a pump that provides the thirsty potato plants with water, but that does require power. “It’s costing me an additional 100 euro per day in power and labour hours. All in all, just the month of May cost me an additional 1,500 euro,” he tells regional news and media site DR (link to Danish website). The potato plants need much water particularly in June and July, before they can be harvested in August, so the electricity bill will rise considerably if the drought lasts. Larsen therefore hopes prices will rise, to compensate for the costs.

Chairperson Carl Heiselberg of industry organisation Danske Kartofler, reports potato growers throughout Denmark are faced with these problems. According to him, 80 to 90 per cent of the total potato area is not getting enough water. He thinks consumers are willing to pay more for potatoes. “After all, nothing is better for Danish consumers than new Danish potatoes, and they’ll probably be willing to pay for them,” Heiselberg says.

Publication date: 6/13/2018


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