Rainfall in Luxembourg for Spring 2020 compared to the 1981-2010 average; Credit: AgriMeteo

As the meteorological spring has now concluded, the State Weather Service of ASTA (Administration des services techniques de l'agriculture) of Luxembourg's Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Rural Development has published its analysis of the weather over the spring (officially 1 March - 31 May 2020) and the consequences for the agriculture sector.

Spring 2020 was +1.1°C warmer and significantly drier than average. On the clear nights in March and shortly after Easter there was late frost across the entire country, which in places and depending on varieties, led to damage in fruit growing. It did not rain for over a month, from 22 March to 27 April.

The weather data comes from the measurement network of 32 automatic weather stations from all regions of Luxembourg. This year the values of the four representative stations Asselborn (north), Clemency (south-west), Remich (Moselle valley) and Grevenmacher (Moselle valley) were compared with the average values for the reference period 1981-2010.

Consequences for agriculture

As a result of this drought, the agricultural crops in Luxembourg are currently in an unsatisfactory state. This worrying water shortage affects agriculture, grassland and vegetable growing, all of which require rainfall during this growing season. Across Central Europe, agricultural crops are in a similar state.

The EU Commission, meanwhile, is already assuming reduced yields in agriculture in this part of Europe. The low rains in March and end of April are by no means sufficient to make up the gap in this phase. The development of weather conditions in the coming weeks will be particularly important for winter wheat cultivation, summer crops (especially for corn), as well as for grasslands. In the case of fruit crops, the two nights after the Easter weekend saw frost damage in places and depending on the variety as, in the middle of the flowering period, the temperatures fell below the threshold of -3.5°C. In fruit growing areas, some of the flowers in the fruit trees were damaged by these frosts. However, it is still too early to assess the overall impact of these late frosts on fruit production.