Estonia's grain harvest to be 50% smaller than last year
As a result of the long period of drought during the spring and excessive rainfall in the first half of August, Estonia's grain harvest for this year is expected to come in 50-60 percent smaller overall than in 2015.
"It's a harvest disaster," Indrek Aigro, a grain trader at Copenhagen Merchants, told BNS. "While optimists hope that harvest will be smaller by 35 percent, pessimists are fearing a drop of 50 percent. I really can't recall a year like this."
Aigro added that massive rainfall in the first half of August, during which Estonia received two average months' worth of rain, had the most devastating effect on crops.
"This is the period when harvesting should reach its peak," he said, explaining that some fields became inaccessible and that rainfall spoiled the quality of the grain.
The period of drought in late spring had a major negative impact on spring cereals as well. Wheat, the most common of these crops, suffered the most.
Jaak Läänemets, chairman of the supervisory board of the Farmers Cooperative KEVILI, said that the grain harvest this year will be very poor indeed. Just like Aigro, he cited the springtime drought, the excessive rainfall in August but also the precipitation at the beginning of February as contributing factors.
"It's difficult to get food-quality grain, and the grain is thin," said Läänemets. "I don't remember it ever having been a problem getting the specific weight of barley right to be able to sell it, but this year it's a very big problem." He added that grain crops could be up to 60 percent smaller overall than last year.
A high reference base is also playing a role, as last year a record amount of grain was harvested in Estonia.
"The past three years, which have been years of very good harvest, have spoiled us a bit," admitted Läänemets, adding that while previously it was only Estonian pig farmers and milk producers facing problems, grain farmers had now begun to suffer as well.
According to Statistics Estonia, a record amount of grain was harvested in Estonia in 2015, with the total harvest crossing the 1.5 million ton mark for the first time ever. Estonia's grain exports jumped to 137.8 million euros; the most important export markets were Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iran.