Persistent rain deficits in Mediterranean regions have led to droughts, harming grasslands and crops such as wheat and barley, while dry weather has had a limited impact in central and western Europe, European crop monitor MARS said.
The southern parts of Spain and Portugal, south-eastern France and north-western Italy are most seriously affected by the drought, with soil water content in the region below the seasonal average and irrigation reservoirs well below capacity, it added.
The seasonal forecast up to May points to warmer and likely drier than average conditions in the region, which means increased risk of harm to crop growth conditions during the spring and summer, it said.
Reduced biomass accumulation - indicating growth of crops and vegetation - has already been observed from satellite imagery, MARS added.
'Above-average rainfall is needed in the coming weeks and months to avoid an increased risk of negative impacts on crop growth conditions later in the season,' the monitor said.
Worst Drought In Decades
Rainfall this year has been 64% less than average in Morocco, climate experts say, leaving farmers facing the worst drought in decades that will force the government to hike grain imports and subsidies.
Above-average temperatures were recorded in northern Germany, western Poland, Denmark and the British Isles, which could favour the survival of pest insects and lead to increased pressure later in the season, MARS said.
So far no significant frost damage has occurred in this region, though winter hardiness remains weak in western Europe and much of central Europe.
Frost tolerance is most distinctly below average in Germany, Poland and Czech Republic, though no critically low temperatures are expected in the region, it added.
Central Turkey and western Russia have experienced a rainfall surplus which is considered predominantly beneficial.