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Finland's farmers report worst grain harvest in 26 years

Last year farms across the country produced their lowest cereals output in a nearly a generation – mainly due to dry conditions.

Vehnäpeltoa Iitissä
A wheat field in Iitti, southeastern Finland. Image: Raine Martikainen / Yle
Yle News

Finland suffered a second poor harvest in a row last year, the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) confirmed on Thursday.

Luke reports that the cereal harvest totalled 2.7 billion kilos, the smallest in 26 years. The 2018 crop was primarily reduced by drought, whereas the poor harvest in 2017 was blamed on excessive rain.

Last year's grain harvest dropped by one fifth compared to the weak 2017 level.

"The dry growing season also burned up the green fodder [grass for animal feed], but this harvest was rescued in most cattle grazing areas by the autumn rains," said Anneli Partala, a senior actuary at Luke.

Broad beans – a key ingredient in increasingly popular vegetarian food products – suffered a sudden, surprising failure, as Silver Y moths chewed up all the leaves on large plantations, she added. These migratory moths, common across much of Europe, North Africa and Asia, head north into the Nordic region during warm summers.

Record-poor results in southwest

The grain harvest was particularly skimpy in southwest Finland. Luke points out that this breadbasket region usually produces roughly one-fifth of the country's cereals, so crop failures there have a major impact on the national total.

In the southwest, the grain harvest shrank by a quarter or even one-third. Meanwhile the amount of grass fodder fell by half from the normal level.

Luke reported that Finland's organic grain harvest shrank by one-tenth. However organic grains usually only make up about three percent of overall grain harvests.

Each autumn, Luke gathers harvest data from farmers through online services and phone interviews. Taking part in the survey were 6,200 farms, including 660 organic farms.

Altogether some 48,000 farms in Finland produce cereals, with about 4,000 of them in organic production.

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