If we want to understand better the drought of this year, we have to look at the geography and topography of Romania. The country is almost evenly disposed between mountains, plains and hills. The Carpathians that cross Romania through the whole territory have a significant impact on the climate. In addition, 245 kilometers of the Black Sea coastline also affect temperatures and humidity. The Carpathians serve as a barrier to air masses from the Atlantic, reducing the influence of the ocean on the western and central regions of the country. At the same time, they do not allow continental streams to descend to the south of the country which bring frosty winters and less rain to the south and southeast.

Climate of the country is very similar to climate of Central Europe. So, the exceptional drought registered last year all over Central Europe didn’t exclude Romania. While this country usually produces around 8.8 Mt (5-year average 2014-2018) of soft wheat, it is also interesting to note that the nation is the 3rd wheat exporter in the European Union after Germany and France.

Graph about the vegetation health index (VHI) in November 2017.
Graph about the vegetation health index (VHI) in November 2018.

In this context, the dryness of this year led to a significant drop of Vegetation Health index as observed on the maps and also a strong drop of soil moisture, especially in the South-East. Emergence of winter crops and especially winter wheat has therefore been penalized leading to very heterogenous crop development all over the country.

Furthermore, the mild weather of past weeks was followed by several cold snaps and a strong amplitude in temperature variation (see graph). Therefore, with temperatures below -10 °C in some parts of the South-east in the beginning of December, there might be some winter kill in the fields.

Graph showing the soil moisture in South East Romania in mm in 2017 and 2018.
Graph showing temperature variation in Romania compared to normal from the 18th of October to the 17th of December.

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