Farmers struggling with night frosts and drought

Farmers are experiencing the worst drought in several years and their crops have also been hit by frequent night frosts this year. Lower yields are expected by many this year.

"Thursday's Aktuaalne Kamaera" visited farms owned by private companies Viraito in Põltsamaaa and Kõo Agro in Viljandi County and saw how the weather has impacted their businesses.

The lack of rain has bleached the summer barley yellow and frost damage has caused peas and corn to turn brown.

Viraito agronomist Riho Kens showed AK a field sowed in spring and said night frosts — that dropped the temperature to -3 degrees (C) — have hit the crops badly.

"I'm predicting a 10 to 20 percent crop decline," he said, adding that he is now hoping for rain.

Kõo Agro crop production manager Andrei Pukman told AK: "The frost damage has been quite severe. But it seems that new shoots are also still coming up. Everything is not lost yet. We will probably not get a full yield /.../ But we hope for the best."

The winter wheat is faring no better.

"The story with this field is, is it possible to save it? The rain will make it better, but most of the crop is gone. The dry and the cold have done their work," said Pukman.

The company's silage production has also been hit and the amount collected during the first harvest has fallen by a third compared to last year.

Pukman described the situation as "difficult" saying the company has done everything it can. "Warmth and rain" are the only things that will fix the problem, he said.

Farmers believe that if the drought continues then there may be a shortage of winter fodder for livestock.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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