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Can we have domestic cereals this year?

Blog post
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19.8.2022
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Anneli Partala

Last year, Finland’s cereal harvest was historically low, falling some 10% short of our annual consumption. This didn’t cause any food shortage for us regular people and was only a minor factor in the increase in food prices. This year’s cereal harvests this and next autumn, combined with various other larger factors, can however have a significant impact on the availability of Finnish food in the next few years.

Barley. Photo: Erkki Oksanen / Luke.

A mediocre cereal harvest expected

According to the harvest estimate produced by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), a cereal harvest of roughly 3.6* billion kilos is expected before harvesting. While being mediocre, it is significantly – or 38%* – higher than in the previous year. The barley harvest is expected to be 1.4 billion, the oat harvest 1.2 billion, the wheat harvest 870* million and the rye harvest 69* million kilos. Only the rye harvest cannot cover our annual consumption, and rye will most likely have to be imported next winter.

How reliable is the harvest estimate? An estimate is always an estimate, and the final figures can only be known after harvesting. This is an indisputable fact. In other words, we still have to wait a few months before we know the final size – and quality – of the cereal harvest. Weather conditions during the rest of this autumn are key!

Last year, Luke’s cereal harvest estimate was 3.1 billion kilos in the middle of July and 2.8 billion kilos at the end of August. As the final 2021 cereal harvest remained at 2.6 billion kilos, the estimate was 20% higher in July and 7% higher in August than the final cereal harvest.

Were last year’s estimates inaccurate? I don’t think so, as each estimate is based on information available at the time. The harvest estimate is based on two valuable sources: cultivated areas as reported by farmers to the subsidy administration and harvest estimates by crop production specialists from regional ProAgria centres. The formula used in the harvest estimate is simple: area × harvest estimate (harvest ÷ area) = harvest.

Final truth

As for more than a hundred years, final harvest data are obtained directly from farmers after harvesting. Based on the data obtained from individual farms, Finland’s official harvest statistics are compiled. Accurate data are vital for farmers: here in Finland, we appreciate accurate data in decision making, which is why farmers and statisticians aim to provide them.

Directly after harvesting in October and November, the roughly 6,000 farms selected to represent Finland’s production receive a crop production survey. Based on the data obtained from farms, preliminary statistics are published at the end of November, and the data are sealed as final in February the following year.

Before data are obtained from farmers, we compile another harvest estimate in September. It is made available on 23 September.

All Luke’s statistics are directly available once they have been compiled by subscribing to them by email. The language can also be selected, meaning that all data are available in Finnish, Swedish and English.

 

* Figures corrected on 19.8.2022 at 12:30.

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