This year's drought is expected to be worse than any in recent years. Credit: Freepik.

Expert Body Sounds Alarm About This Year’s Worsening Drought

According to an expert working group, this year’s drought in the Czech Republic is set to be the worst in recent years. The period of shortage of soil moisture in the layer 40 centimetres below the surface was longer this year than in previous drought events in 2015, 2017 and 2018, according to the team at Intersucho (Inter-drought).

This year, the experts have recorded 130 to 209 days with a shortage of soil moisture, when the relative saturation in the surface layer is under 50 percent. In these conditions, plants are at least partly limited in their growth and development.

“This year’s winter saw precipitation slightly below the average, but most of the rains occurred at lower and medium altitudes where there was less than 50 percent of the usual snow cover,” said the report.

“As a result, most of our territory entered the new vegetation season lacking moisture for the start of the growth of plants, which was an essential difference from last year, when the soil was mostly fully saturated. Unfortunately, the spring months were below average when it comes to rain. In March, there was 35 percent of total precipitation, in April 108 percent and in May 71 percent,” warned the experts.

Since March, the experts of the Intersucho team have been reporting losses in crop yields. At first, they ranged between 10-30 percent, but the situation is deteriorating, and in some districts in southern Moravia and northwestern Bohemia, losses in yields are expected to amount to 30-40 percent.

“This year’s drought is primarily due to the shortage of precipitation, observed since autumn 2021. Above-average air temperatures affected the situation especially in June and July,” the report noted.

“Although in places, there was strong precipitation in the form of storms during June, this failed to improve the situation in the fields and in most of the Czech Republic, losses in crop yields are still expected,” it added.

The soil drought started appearing in early March and came to a head in the second half of March, mid-May and mid-June. At those times, lower levels of soil moisture were recorded in up to 90 percent of the Czech Republic.

In the days to come, the situation will mainly worsen in the deeper layers of soil, between 40 and 100 centimetres. In the upper layer, the situation is good, but the high temperatures coming in the middle of the week will cause a rapid desiccation of the landscape.