Munich, June 30, 2023 – Climate change is altering land management.

Dry periods in particular are causing problems for arable farming. But not all droughts are the same. The complex interplay of precipitation, soil moisture and plant growth is crucial for agriculture when it comes to harvesting.

Crop year 2023: Despite wet spring, drought stress in June leads to losses

This year, crops – especially winter wheat had sufficient water until mid-May. High precipitation in the spring created a good starting for plant growth. A comparison with the average of the past five years also shows that cereal crops in 2023 had fewer water problems by the end of May.

The graph on the left shows winter wheat drought stress averaged over the past 10 days as of the date shown. The graph on the right compares the data to the average for the same period over the past five years.

However, the current data at the end of June 2023 looks different. The very warm and dry weeks since mid-May hit winter wheat at a critical stage of plant growth. Especially in grain formation after flowering, wheat needs a lot of water, and temperatures should not exceed 30 degrees. Despite a good starting situation in spring, wheat is now under higher drought stress than the average of the previous five years. Experts at Vista GmbH are therefore expecting a drop in the winter wheat harvest: a decline of 6 percent is forecast for Germany as a whole. Regionally, the assessment is even worse.

This year, the dry weeks have hit agriculture particularly hard in the regions of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Rhineland-Palatinate, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. There, Vista experts expect yield losses of up to 17 percent.