Drought devastates Hungarian agriculture

500 thousand hectares of crops destroyed, damages over €1 billion, cereal export expected to be less than half of the average

Dry, cracked soil. There is one small, dead leaf lying on the ground.
Beeld: ©Mike Erskine

As Europe is dealing with a particularly hot and dry summer this year, the drought in Hungary has already destroyed five hundred thousand hectares of crops.

The economic news portal Portfolio reported last week that due to the water stressed period, 300 thousand hectares of maize and 200 thousand hectares of sunflower crops have been completely destroyed. The damage to agriculture is estimated to be over €1 billion.

While water stressed periods in the summer have caused issues in previous years as well, farms have been so severely hit especially in the Great Hungarian Plains in the past weeks that the portal is calling the drought a disaster of “biblical proportions”.

To make matters worse, due to high prices on the global market, farmers have sown larger areas this year with cereals, and these other crops are also suffering due to the drought. The production area of barley, for example, increased by 30% in 2022, yet the harvest yield is 10% lower than last year. In the case of wheat, yields will be lower as well, however, the harvest has only concluded over around 30% of the total area so final figures are still unavailable.

Tamás Petőházi, president of the Hungarian Cereal Producers Alliance has told the portal that the cereal harvest yield will be “tragically weak” this season. According to Mr. Petőházi, the Great Plains were particularly severely hit by the dry period: The average yield for barley was 4.5 tons per hectare, however, the figure for Transdanubia (Western Hungary) was 5 t/h while yields on the Great Plains were between 2 and 3 t/h.

Mr. Petőházi also added that Hungary’s cereal export will be much lower this year (instead of the annual average of 2.5 million tons, less than 1 million) and that due to rising input prices, even yields of 4 t/h could not turn profit for farmers.


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