Hail and drought – how severe will this year’s agricultural damage be?

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A month ago, we already wrote about the huge losses for growers and fruit growers associated with the unexpectedly severe April frosts. However, all indications are that this year’s agricultural damage will be much greater. The storms sweeping over Poland have shown their destructive potential, but have not fundamentally changed the difficult water resources situation. What awaits farmers in 2024?

Hailstorm hits growers

May 20 this year. A hailstorm of several minutes passed over the Lublin region, causing gigantic damage to agriculture and orchards. Meanwhile, in Opole County, raspberry and strawberry growers, who had already been affected by spring frosts, were particularly affected. According to the Polish Press Agency, losses have reached 100 percent on some plantations. The hail was the size of walnuts and also harmed the apple trees. After the frost, I had 20-30 percent left. apple plantations. Now everything has been completely destroyed – Fruit grower Pawel Suchodolak told PAP. On May 25, hailstorms also decimated crops in the Warka municipality in Mazovia.

In late May and early June, more storms with hailstorms swept over Poland. One farmer from eastern Greater Poland complains on FB that beets and corn have suffered the most. Violent storms also passed over the Świętokrzyskie and Małopolskie provinces. The non-governmental organization Storm Watchers Network warns that thunderstorms with hail are also expected this week. More rainfall of destructive hail is also forecast by IMGW-PIB, with the current warning extending through Saturday.

Agricultural damage due to drought – almost certain

It might have seemed that the June storms with heavy rainfall would at least protect farmers from drought. Unfortunately, so far there is no indication of this. The Institute of Cultivation, Fertilization and Soil Science – National Research Institute (IUNG PIB) published updated climatic water balance data for the last quarter at the end of May. They show that the difference between the supply of precipitation height and field evaporation amounted to as much as -170 mm in the Lower Silesia province, while in parts of the Wielkopolska, Łódź, Świętokrzyskie, Mazowieckie and Lublin provinces it exceeded -130 mm.

The proportion of drought-prone soils for spring cereal crops in some locations was more than 80 percent. Strawberry plantations in the aforementioned regions are also at significant risk. Agricultural damage due to drought even before the beginning of summer is therefore certain. PIG-PIB’s forecast for the period from June 1 to August 31 this year is also pessimistic. Starting in July, a hydrogeological low is expected in southern and then also central Poland.

Can farmers count on help?

Climate challenges are not improving the mood among farmers, who have been protesting the Common Agricultural Policy since February. The vice president of the Polish Fruit Growers Association, Krzysztof Cebulak, announced that talks are planned with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on emergency aid for the recent hailstorm. According to him, there is also a need to make changes in the insurance system and organize subsidies from EU funds, among other things. For the purchase of hail nets. In some municipalities, applications can already be submitted for hail damage estimates. They will be sent on to ARMA.

Recall that more than PLN 752 million has already been paid out for agricultural damage caused by last year’s drought. The so-called drought aid is a program aimed at agricultural producers whose average income from their operations has decreased by more than 30 percent. Due to the occurrence of drought and other adverse weather events. Unfortunately, there are voices of disappointment from many quarters – some hosts were not qualified for support, while others received assistance of a few tens of zlotys.

Retention the best remedy?

Climate change means that the drought is likely to be prolonged, gradually increasing in scope. So, instead of relying on aid for the agricultural damage that has occurred, it is better to prevent it. The Agricultural Advisory Centers therefore urge farmers to collect rainwater in the form of so-called “rainwater harvesting. trough retention. The idea is to retain water where it has fallen and use the irrigation and drainage functions of drainage systems.

Unfortunately, to date, the implementation of the Waterways’ implemented Program for shaping water resources in agricultural areas according to the Supreme Audit Office, has been incorrect and ineffective. According to the NIK, of the planned 100 million3 of trough retention, only 10 percent has been realized.

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