Climate change to give Estonian farmers two harvests

Wheat. Photo is illustrative.
Wheat. Photo is illustrative. Source: Liina Uurman/

The Earth's climate becoming warmer is contributing to a longer vegetation period, while climate change will also cause more extreme conditions for agriculture, such as longer droughts, Ülo Niinemets, head of the Estonian University of Life Sciences' plant production and biology department told the "Terevisioon" morning show on Thursday.

Niinemets said that while climate change will not contribute heavily to the average temperature rising, the vegetation period for plants will be longer. "Spring will start sooner and autumn later, whereas winters are believed to see the greatest temperature rise. Summers will perhaps not become that much hotter," Niinemets said.

The scientist described a longer vegetation period as a positive phenomenon for agriculture as new crops could still be sowed after the winter crop harvest and harvested before autumn, giving farmers two annual harvests. "We will never have four annual harvests, like in Egypt," Niinemets said.

Climate change could create more extreme conditions, such as longer drought periods. "The risks will grow. Agriculture is a risky field to begin with. Climate varying from one year to the next is problematic," the researcher said.

The climate becoming warmer might also favor species who currently do not live as far north, Niinemets explained. "The pressure seems to be growing, all manner of pest insects, pathogenic fungi and bacteria keep inching closer," he said.

People moving also affects the spread of seeds and pathogens. "We have a lot of plant diseases that are originally from the Far East. It would have taken them centuries to reach Estonia naturally or perhaps they would never have moved here, but because of movement of people, services and food, they have arrived very quickly," Niinemets said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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