Paris is scorching in historic drought as heatwave fries Europe

In Paris, temperatures are forecast to hit 42 deg C. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (BLOOMBERG) - Paris is going through its driest period in almost 150 years and temperatures across Europe are continuing to reach extreme levels, leaving scorched fields and farmers frustrated by another spell of bad weather.

In the east German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Ms Christa-Maria Wendig is worried that these once-rare droughts are becoming common. She plans to give up planting rapeseed in the coming months because the dry weather and the heatwave have stunted her ripening corn crop.

"Our ponds are empty and the meadows withered," she said.

As temperatures keep climbing across Europe this week, and are expected to peak on Thursday (July 25) in Paris and London, the effects of extreme weather are becoming clearer. This summer has already seen raging wildfires in Portugal and Spain, falling water levels on Germany's Rhine River and irrigation restrictions in France.

Day-ahead electricity prices in France hit a five-month high on Tuesday. In Paris, temperatures are forecast to hit 42 deg C.

Electricite de France SA plans to halt two nuclear reactors at Golfech this week as the Garonne river becomes too warm for cooling the plant. The company, which produces about three-quarters of France's power, has said it will prepare nuclear plants to operate in more severe heatwaves in the coming decades amid a changing climate.

In agriculture, the heatwave is having the biggest impact on corn fields, which are in a key growth stage. Yields will drop sharply if beneficial rains don't arrive soon, said German grains handler Agravis Raiffeisen. Winter wheat and barley are already being collected and have escaped most of the bad weather.

Some farmers in France and Germany may harvest corn early as silage to build up their animal-feed supplies for the winter, rather than collecting the crops as grain to sell on the market, said Ms Laurine Simon, an analyst at consultant Strategie Grains.

Forage stocks are already low after last year's drought, and Paris corn futures are up about 10 per cent since late May.

In the east German state of Brandenburg, where farmers are contending with the third straight summer of drought conditions, industry representatives have called for emergency aid from state and federal governments.

While the dry spell isn't yet as severe as the one seen in 2018, farmers are still expecting smaller-than-usual grain harvests.

"There's no question of us relaxing," said Mr Henrik Wendorff, the head of Germany's Brandenburg LBV farmers' association. "The kind of bumper harvest that would have enabled us to compensate for the harsh losses of the previous year won't be there."

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