Record warmth leaves European grains with low disease, frost resistance

FILE PHOTO: Wheat grows in a field in Lusignac, France, June 20, 2019. REUTERS/ Regis Duvignau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Temperatures near to the highest on record in areas of western and central Europe have left crops more prone to pests and disease, as well as vulnerable to damage from any late frosts, the European Union crop monitor MARS said on Monday.

The autumn sowing season in Europe late last year was disrupted by heavy rain in western countries and dryness in some eastern regions, meaning crops such as wheat have grown more slowly than usual.

At the same time, the mild weather has prevented cereals from developing sufficient tolerance for low temperatures, a process known as hardening, making them more vulnerable to any frosts.

No further frost-kill is expected during the period to Jan. 31, MARS said, the end of its current forecast period, but crops could suffer after that.

“The overall balance of positive and negative effects will depend on how the season evolves,” the crop monitor said.

Reporting by Forrest Crellin, editing by Barbara Lewis