Nationwide, the combine harvesters are at the start these days - the grain harvest has begun almost everywhere. Mainly because of the drought in May, the German Farmers' Association expects a harvest around six percent lower than last year and a yield of around 40.9 million tons of grain. This continues the trend with yields that have been falling for years, said the President of the German Farmers' Association, Joachim Rukwied, on Tuesday in Riethnordhausen (Sömmerda district) in Thuringia. Between 2018 and 2022, an average of 42.2 million tons of grain were brought in.
"Agriculture is already clearly feeling the effects of climate change," said Rukwied. The mood in the agricultural businesses is subdued despite the good harvest weather at the moment. The reason is not only the expected yield losses, but also a drop in the price of grain and rapeseed of 40 to 45 percent compared to last autumn. "We farmers need higher prices."
This situation poses great challenges for many companies in view of the increased costs. The across-the-board reduction targets for plant protection proposed by the EU would lead to further yield declines. The strong loss of land - an average of 55 hectares nationwide per day - due to settlement construction and infrastructure projects are also causing declining harvest volumes.
The rain is missing
However, the Farmers Union President does not anticipate any major impact on consumers. Rukwied: "We continue to assume that inflation will not be driven by agricultural products." An exception are the prices for sugar and pork.
Thuringia's Farm President Klaus Wagner cited the lack of precipitation at the very time when the grain grains were developing as the reason for the expected losses. In the case of winter barley, he expects yield losses of up to a quarter in Thuringia. "I'm curious to see what effects the new fertilizer regulation will have on quality."
According to the German Farmers' Association, winter wheat is the most important type of grain with an area of 2.84 million hectares - it fell by two percent. Winter barley grows on 1.27 million hectares. This is followed by spring barley with 329,000 hectares - down 11 percent - and oats with 138,400 hectares and a drop of 13 percent. The area under cultivation for winter rape has increased by around 80,000 hectares to 1.16 million hectares this year.
Rukwied described the situation in organic farming as currently difficult. In 2022, for the first time in many years, there was a drop in sales of 3.5 percent. Consumers paid more attention to the price when shopping and bought more organic products from discounters. According to the association, around 11.3 percent of the agricultural area is farmed organically. In total there are almost 31,100 organic farms. Rukwied expects that the market development will slow down the conversion of conventional farms to organic farming. Already in 2022 the organic area had increased by only 3.7 percent, in 2018 it was still 9.1 percent.