Milk, olive oil, wine: will the drought lead to shortages in France?

The drought is historic for the year 2022, until it requires restrictions on access to water. The situation has a significant impact on the agricultural world.

The fourth heat wave affecting France in early August 2022 means that the drought continues. This results in a maximum alert level in around sixty departments, with restrictions linked to the use of water. Drought also comes with a direct impact on crops due to water stress (the problematic lack of water).

Historic drought and heat wave are shaking French and European agriculture: all production is in a critical situation and farmers are paying a high price for the cumulative effects of a historically dry winter, a historically hot spring and a historically hot summer. scorching “, warns the FNSEA on its website, in a post of August 8.

If the entire agricultural world is therefore affected, certain foods are particularly concerned. The decline in yield could be the cause of shortages within a few months. This particularly concerns milk.

Milk

In the fall, the milk carton could see its price increase, due to its scarcity. In question, the drought, which considerably reduces milk production. A dry month of May is combined with 4 heat waves in a row. The causal link is not very complicated: to produce milk, cows need food and feel good.

However, with the drought, the cows face water stress and their food is more limited. Grasses are, for example, rarer, the expanses are “cooked”, at a time of year when this is the main diet of dairy cows in the meadows.

As of July 20, the cumulative production of permanent grasslands since the beginning of the year is 21% below normal. The persistent drought as well as the heat waves impact the growth of the grass. The situation deteriorated in July over the majority of the territory, with only the central regions experiencing a development close to normal “, noted at the end of July Agreste, a statistical monitoring body for agriculture.

As a result, in this type of situation, farmers have to dip into the stock planned for the winter and/or part with part of their herd.

Potatoes

The potato tuber contains a high proportion of water — 77% on average. Potatoes are therefore all susceptible to water stress, although this varies from variety to variety. The dryness means that the tubers will be smaller and the resulting vegetable too. Some will not be viable. This greatly reduces the potential for marketable potatoes.

Potatoes need a lot of water. // Source: Pixabay

Olives (and therefore olive oil)

Olive growers have spoken out in several media about the lack of viable harvests this summer. It is linked to the behavior of the tree, the olive trees: in the event of high heat, it prematurely gets rid of its fruits and closes its leaves to save energy in order to survive. This is how an Ardèche producer explains, for example, to FranceInfo that he will lose 80% of his crops this year, unheard of at home.

This will have an impact on olive oil, which will therefore be superimposed on the shortage of sunflower oil due to the crisis in Ukraine.

The cereals

For cereal harvests, the Agreste figures are not very encouraging for certain varieties:

  • The corn : ” Cultivation conditions, which are dry and hot, are detrimental to the development of maize. Grain surfaces (including seeds) would be down by 90 thousand hectares compared to 2021 and the yield would be
    86.7 q/ha, compared to 100.2 q/ha in 2021.
    »
  • The sunflower : ” Yield potential could be greatly affected by the drought: its early estimate is 22.8 q/ha, i.e. 4.6 q/ha less than in 2021. »

The Agreste report concludes that there is a problem that goes beyond French borders, because it affects all of Europe: “ The outlook for EU summer crop yields has been significantly reduced due to the persistence of hot and dry weather conditions. Yields of grain maize, sunflower and soybean would be well below the five-year average. »

Wine

On the specialized site Vitisphere, the alert has been launched: the drought is putting the vineyards in pain. Some vines, especially younger ones, are wilting. In older vines, it is defoliation (leaves dropping). While they should be getting bigger, the grains are getting smaller.

vines
The vines are a lot to be in poor condition this summer 2022, or to produce small grapes. // Source: Pixabay

The poorly irrigated vines lack malic acid, an essential ingredient in the color and flavor of wines. Faced with a significant loss of natural content in the grapes, producers will have to compensate with more alcohol during the winemaking process.

Water stress is therefore likely to have a qualitative and quantitative impact on all harvests.

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