If you've been reading the comments to recent posts, you will have seen updates from our cousins in France about the weather there. I thought I would gather them all together -
Here in Charente-Maritime, France, it's been wall-to-wall sunshine since the beginning of March (only 50mm of rain since 01/03). We are now in "stress" conditions for farmers - no irrigation, no forage available, farmers selling their milking stock for slaughter because they have no feed.
Welcome to global warming?
Thought I'd give you an update from Charente-Maritime after another week without rain.
You look to have some good silage there. Farmers here claim their first cut (about 4 weeks ago) was of poor quality,: and that the grass hasn't grown since. Some Mayors are now allowing farmers to cut and harvest the verges of the small lanes. Other farmers are cutting any fallow piece of land with anything like grass on it for fodder. Our large pasture opposite, which has not been "farmed" in the last 12 years to our knowledge, yielded a meagre 2 round bales. We've seen small traffic islands being cut. It's crazy. The grass - or whatever - is clearly of poor quality but the farmers are desperate for fodder.
Last weekend they blocked local motorway slip-roads, met up outside the Prefect's office, and blocked the roads to the beaches. This latter was important.
AS they argue, tourism is important here (we are N° 3 in the most sunny departments in France), and the visitors have been flocking here to enjoy the weather. Tourists also need water. They are getting it, farmers are not. (Crops are about 3/4 weeks ahead of normal, so maize needs water now).
The only good point is that fishing, especially Oyster fishing (our oyster beds are the largest in France) don't need fresh water - yet. Oysters grow in estuaries, so need both salt and fresh water. But the current mix of each is said to be OK.
The rain forecast for yesterday and today didn't appear. Showers are forecast for Monday. We'll see.
May I give you a late - but final - update on weather, etc in Charente-Maritime?
We hadn't had rain since 01/04 (5mm). Saturday 04/06 it got hotter, and hotter: 36°C in the shade, and humid (it was unbearable outdoors). Then, about 8,45 in the evening it started raining; then the lightning and thunder; then the downpour. By 10,15, when it had stopped, we'd had 18mm. Wonderful! Since then we've had a couple of light showers only but hope for more.
Final tales: Farmers locally have been harvesting winter-sown barley for about 3 weeks now. Normally they burn the straw in the fields to help the soil; but this year have been asked to save it for stock and milk farmers. The local paper reported that one farmer was burning his straw, when he was visited by about 15 other farmers, who "took him aside to explain his responsibilities". So polite French farmers. ....
We have trials farm locally where they are piloting Sorghum, noted for its hardiness against summer drought. But it needs water to germinate: and, with our dry Spring, it hasn't germinated.
River fishermen and oyster farmers are now complaining about the low river levels: worst ever. So, it looks like fewer gifts from our fishing neighbour; and more expensive oysters. How will we manage?