The ongoing dry weather across the country presents the agricultural sector with a serious problem of reduced harvest which could still be felt as far away as Christmas, sectoral organisations have warned. While the rest of the country is basking in sunshine and high temperatures, farmers see nothing but dark clouds on the horizon.
Take for example the potato, the Belgian product par excellence. “We have delayed deliveries,” grower Erik Siemoens told VRT radio. “The potatoes are way too small. The factories can’t make frieten with them.” West Flanders is a world leader in the production of fresh and frozen fries for the catering industry.
To make matters worse, he explained, the plant which grows above the ground is being dessicated by the drought, which will have an effect on future crops of new potatoes.
In other sectors, the continuing drought is making it impossible to sow new vegetables which would normally be harvested later in the year – among them beans, spinach and a second harvest of cauliflower. “The effects of that will continue to be felt until Christmas,” said Nele Cattoor of the vegetable-growing federation Vegebe.
It’s not possible to predict the effect on prices for the time being, she said. Everything depends on the weather between now and harvest.
Meanwhile VRT weatherman Frank Deboosere forecast that the dry weather was not yet at an end. The problem lies, he explained, in “omega-blocking,” where high-pressure areas remain blocked over particular areas, especially in the west of Belgium. Rainfall is more associated with low-pressure areas.
At present, there is a blockage over our close neighbour Great Britain, depriving Belgium of rain. Good news for sun-seekers, less good for vegetable producers.