North and East Iceland are expecting one of the worst grain harvests for decades, thanks to the long winter and poor spring and summer this year.
One farmer in the East who harvested 100 tons of grain last year has already written off his entire harvest this year. The situation is similar in most parts of Iceland, though a good harvest is expected in parts of South Iceland.
Eymundur Magnússon, a wheat farmer at Vallanes in East Iceland, harvested 100 tons of wheat last year, but does not think he will have a harvest at all this year. He told RÚV that even if conditions improve significantly, it is too little too late to save the harvest—the plants have developed too late and are still too sensitive for this time of year. Last summer was among the best in memory in East Iceland, and the harvest was excellent.
“It is like comparing black and white. Last summer was the best summer in living memory and I have never seen such well-developed wheat as last year. So therefore it looks like we are going from about 100 tons down to zero this year,” Eymundur says.
A farmer in West Iceland told RÚV that his crop is looking rather sad and just on the verge of fully maturing. The weather has been mostly dry for most of the summer there and, despite the cold spring, the situation has improved markedly in the West.
In South Iceland it is a totally different story. There, harvests are even expected to be ‘very good,’ according to some farmers.
Since Icelandic grain farming started becoming more widespread, about three decades ago, it has always been possible to harvest fully mature plants in Eyjafjörður, North Iceland, according to local farming association head Sigurgeir Hreinsson. This year, for the first time, he is not optimistic. “If these conditions continue, with cloudy and wet weather, then it is very doubtful it will be possible to mature even a fraction of the grain that was sown this spring. I think it looks like it’s going to be one of the worst years, if not the worst year.”