Farmers eye weather as harvest season approaches in Finland

Success or sting of failure? Much is riding upon the fields of barley... (Niko Rönkkö / Yle)
Success or sting of failure? Much is riding upon the fields of barley… (Niko Rönkkö / Yle)

As the grain crops begin to yellow, the start of the threshing season approaches for Finnish farmers. The harvest is expected to be better than usual but the weather in coming weeks is crucial to the success of the crops — and for farmers’ back pockets.

Harvesting could start as early as this week for the early maturing varieties of cereal – the crops that were sown at the start of autumn last year will be the first to ripen.

In Asikkala, agriculturalist Matt Seppälä’s barley, oat and wheat crops are still somewhat on the green side.

“It looks like these will take another two or three weeks of waiting, but in this area the first grain threshing may start in a week,” Seppälä estimates.

According to Pro Agria, the state of play for this summer’s harvest is a good week or so ahead of schedule. Crop prospects may vary from region to region and some places have been affected by drought.

Fine line between success and struggle

In the Häme area the grain yields may be higher than average this year if the weather favours the harvest period. The flipside is that a few days of heavy rain can wash away half a farmer’s income, says Seppälä.

Naturally, farmers are hoping for a harvesting period without an excess of rain, sun or wind.

“A year ago it was exactly the same situation – a very rainy harvesting season ruined the harvest. So I hope that the dry weather continues from now on,” says Seppälä.

According to Seppälä, the worst case scenario would be that rains reduce the quality of the cereals, forcing him to sell what would have been a fine breadflour crop for animal feed. He would lose out on income in line with the reduction in the quality of his product. Additionally, if the yield needs to be dried out, the cost in oil and labour also takes its toll.

First apples soon ripe for the picking

Apple farmers are also amongst those waiting to see what fate the weather will decide for them. Southern Finnish apple orchards are this week on the verge of beginning their picking season. They are expecting a reasonable harvest this year.

The currant harvesting season is already underway, with the first ripe berries plucked from plants in the south of the country a week ago. The blackcurrant crop is expected to be average this year.

Raspberries are also on the quicken – the tasty red favourites will be finding their way into the hands of professional pickers in southern and central Finland in a couple of weeks’ time.

Thanks to the hitherto sunny weather, this year’s berry yield is tipped to be particularly sweet.

Yle News

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