Wheat prices in Europe reached a two-year high this week after Russian officials announced that extreme heat and drought had decimated roughly 20 percent of the country’s winter crop. Prices retreated slightly after the country’s Agriculture Ministry said that Russia, the world’s third-largest wheat exporter, would use its stocks to maintain exports.
Despite the reassurances, financial markets remained concerned that the wheat losses could be higher than projected, The Financial Times reported. Meteorological reports indicate that hot, dry weather in Russia will continue until mid-August.
Poor growing weather has also stunted wheat harvests in other countries, including Canada, where unusually heavy rains will reduce yields by about 17 percent. Ukraine faces an even more severe grain shortage after a growing season marked by drought and floods, leading government officials to impose a wheat export ban. Meanwhile, hot, dry weather in Western Europe is expected to reduce production of a wide swath of food commodities.
In Russia, heat and drought have not only withered crops but also ignited catastrophic wildfires across the country, leading President Dmitri Medvedev to declare a state of emergency in more than a dozen provinces and call in the army to help put out and prevent fires.
The abnormally hot and dry weather and its devastating consequences, also led the Russian president to make a rare pronouncement on the threat posed by global warming, Time magazine reports.
“What’s happening with the planet’s climate right now needs to be a wake-up call to all of us, meaning all heads of state, all heads of social organizations, in order to take a more energetic approach to countering the global changes to the climate,” Mr. Medvedev said late last week.