French grain farmers damn drought

French grain farmers damn drought
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The strawberry harvest is already under way in Britain. An unusually warm April jump-started the season, swelled the harvest and boosted quality, the sun making the strawberries a lot sweeter. But the seasonal conditions enjoyed by some have hurt others.

In France, pasture for cattle has grown thin on the ground for want of rain, and because of temperatures around four degrees above normal.

Rainfall here in February, March and April was between 20 and 60 percent below averages measured from 1950 to 2000, said the World Meteorological Organisation.

The shortfall of rain is threatening the grain crop, especially in the Paris basin, France’s richest granary.

According to farmers: “Normally, at this time of the year, water at the soil surface feeds the plants so they’ll be ready through May or June.”

Growing grain has become riskier with the dependence on irrigation. The lowering of the water table has brought restrictions on water consumption in 20 French departements.

A farmer commenting on this said: “Seed corn didn’t take root. These plants might die. We may not have anything to irrigate. We need the water now.”

Europe’s farmers are watching the sky, as grain prices rise further and the early drought drags on.

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