Farmers worried about crops weathering irregular rainfall patterns

As Malta moves into the autumn, a heavier than normal rainfall in the coming weeks may spell disaster for Malta’s food crops

 While the impact on fruit and vegetables is the more obvious of these effects, heavy rainfall on crops is a problem that branches out into other agricultural sectors
While the impact on fruit and vegetables is the more obvious of these effects, heavy rainfall on crops is a problem that branches out into other agricultural sectors

The week’s brief thunderstorm marked the close of an arid summer without the usual Santa Maria rainfall. But as Malta moves into the autumn, a heavier than normal rainfall in the coming weeks may spell disaster for Malta’s food crops.

Jeanette Borg, the founder of the Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation, said Malta’s irregular rainfall was becoming problematic for farmers.

“We’re surrounded by sea water, so we depend a lot on rainfall for our crops. There have also been studies at the University of Malta showing the impact of our changing weather patterns.”

While the impact on fruit and vegetables is the more obvious of these effects, heavy rainfall on crops is a problem that branches out into other agricultural sectors.

Jeanette Borg, founder of the Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation
Jeanette Borg, founder of the Malta Youth in Agriculture Foundation

Fodder crops, grown primarily to feed livestock, are rain-fed and support Malta's dairy industry, Borg said.

“If our fodder crops fail due to irregular rainfall, we’ll have to import the crops ourselves, adding even more costs to the process,” she warned.

And irregular rainfall is not just a matter of long spans of drought. Malcolm Borg, from Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi, says that while the usual showers in September generally have a positive impact on local crops, flash floods can cause major issues during the warmer months.

“The high levels of humidity, aggravated by heavy rainfall, can lead to serious fungal diseases among crops. This has to be treated promptly by farmers, only adding to their expenses,” Borg said.

Farmers aren’t worrying just yet – fungal disease becomes a real threat only in the events of flash foods. Unless there is particularly heavy rainfall this week, which is unlikely to be the case, Malta’s local crops will weather the storms.

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