Norway's wheat production impacted by Climate Change

Guest essay by David Archibald

A correspondent in Oslo writes:

“The official view in Norway is in contrast to what the people experience because of cooling weather: Late spring gives flooding and avalanches when late snow-melting in the mountains. Water pipes freeze because of early and deep frost in the winter. Insect populations down 40% in 5 years because of cool and wet summers. This of cause is bad for pollination of fruit and berries. The grain harvest in Norway this summer is down 18% from average the last 5 years, despite increase in area and better seeds. But officially it is getting warmer.”

Some of those observations are anecdotal but some facts can be checked – Norwegian wheat production for example. The following figure shows Norwegian wheat production from 1960. Wheat production is off 48% from its peak:

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Figure 1: Norwegian Wheat Production 1960 – 2013

The problem is sprouting of grain on the stalk prior to harvest due to excessive humidity. That in turn means that Norwegian wheat is no longer good enough to make Norwegian bread as shown by Figure 2:

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Figure 2: Percentage of domestic wheat in Norwegian wheat flour (Statistics Norway 2011)

Just a few years ago, Norwegian wheat comprised up to about 75% of Norwegian bread, seemingly hitting a blend wall. Now it is down to 10% due to climate change.

The Norwegian Government used to have a policy of storing two years’ worth of grain consumption. This was a lesson from WW2. It took two generations to forget that lesson and the policy was abandoned in the 1990s. Like a number of other countries, Norway will have to pay for higher food imports while its main source of revenue is falling rapidly. Norwegian oil production peaked in 2001 at 3.4 million barrels per day is now under half that number:

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Figure 3: Norwegian Oil Production 1965 – 2013

Norwegian oil production has produced a classic Hubbert-style peak. Norway will cease to be an oil exporter by 2030. The country had attempted to placate the gods of climate with an expensive carbon capture project at the Mongstad refinery on the west coast. That foolish and self-indulgent project was abandoned on 20th September, 2013. With the funds that have been saved by that abandonment perhaps the Norwegian Government should go back to storing two years’s worth of grain.

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Gary Pearse

David, double the impact with a temperature graph and carbon dioxide graph. It would follow figure 1 pretty well. Throw in the carbon dioxide graph to show you need both temp and CO2 for agriculture.

If interested in the effect of climate on wheat production, total production is meaningless without an area under cultivation as the denominator. Isn’t this the better graph?

Mike Nyström

The decline in wheat production could have something to do with “eco-food” demand. I have noticed big patches of weed in the fields of wheat here in Sweden, when I do my workrelated roadtrips. Sometimes an entire field is at least 10% weed. It is easy to see what farmer is pandering to to the citydwellers, hungry for “bio-dynamic” food.

me

How much agricultural land is lost to wind farms?

As UnfrozenCavemanMD suggests,
The area should be emphatic
Once area yield is addressed
The graph comes out much less dramatic:
http://www.factfish.com/statistic-country/norway/wheat,%20yield
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

Speed

I used to buy “sprouted wheat bagels” at my local grocery. They were discontinued by the supplier about six months ago — reason unknown. Perhaps Norwegian wheat farmers need to investigate this potential market.

Is it getting warmer or not? That first paragraph is difficult to decipher.
“Officially” = “Manipulated”.
People complain about the cold but, OFFICIALLY its getting “Warmer”.
My ass

klem

“Now it is down to 10% due to climate change.”
Wait a minute, how do they know that the growth from 1% to 75% since 1970 wasn’t also caused by climate change?

Chilli

As Keith says, the wheat yield per hectare is unchanged since the 1980’s. So it looks more like land is being switched to grow more lucrative crops. I suspect biofuels.

temp

While I always love a good shot at the doomsday cultists… I would say this has less to due with global warming directly and more to due with the goal of global warming… aka bringing about a socialist utopia.
Anyone who knows anything knows socialism create vast waste and under production of resources. Anyone who’s been following the news lately knows that the communism union know as the EUSSR has been gaining more and more control and power over every aspect of europeon life. One of its major pushes is the control of food.
It is much more likely that the loss of production is due to socialism then any weather/”climate changes”.

David
You badly need a Norwegian temperature graph if you are saying that wheat production is down because of the climate.
here is CET to 1772. Temperatures have been dropping sharply for a decade. We are back to the climate of the 1730’s.
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/
tonyb

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/27/reactions-to-ipcc-ar5-summary-for-policy-makers/#comment-1431798
Excerpt:
My primary concern at this point is the probability of imminent global cooling, which may or may not be severe. In the longer term over thousands of years, catastrophic natural global cooling is inevitable. I suggest that the primary focus of climate science should not be alleged humanmade global warming and its mitigation; rather it should primarily focus on natural global cooling and its mitigation.
___________
Perhaps W. B. Yeats was projecting global cooling:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…
– The Second Coming (1919)
___________
Obviously not enough sleep last night. 🙂
Regards to all, Allan

Martin M

Clearly, oil production is down due to climate change. The graph says it all! What else has declined in the past 5 years? We’ll blame that on climate change as well.

Wait until sun cycle 25 kicks in!

Latitude

This is silly….Norway didn’t even grow wheat used for food prior to around 1950
All they need to do is take the varieties of wheat that made it through the “climate change”…
…and breed again from there
Like no one grew any food during the MWP or LIA……sheesh

Janice Moore

Tony B, I may have misunderstood the author of the above article, but I think he uses “climate change” to refer to the 17 years of lack of warming and even cooling since 1996. Thus, I believe your fine data citation supports David’s analysis (and good for you, Tony B).
So, yes, Klem, “climate change” (warming due entirely to natural forcings such as ENSO) did help the wheat to grow and, now, is stunting it. AND MORE WARMING WOULD BE A GOOD THING.
Yes, Mr. Nystrom, that indeed could be a major cause. “Organic” and/or “pesticide-free” and/or “non-GM” food is a scam perpetrated for profit on the uneducated. Sad. None of my business, yes, until they get politicians to take away my freedom to choose to NOT participate in their fantasy world, WASTEFUL (indeed, Temp), practices.
Take care, Allan — your posts over the past weeks (years? — I’m relatively new to WUWT) have established that you have many worthwhile, intelligent, things to share. Sleep well, tonight!

Ian W

Walter J Horsting says:
October 5, 2013 at 11:51 am
Wait until sun cycle 25 kicks in!

Walter
It would appear that “shuffles” may be a better description than “kicks”

Martin M is dead on.
While Archibald’s assertions in this article could, with luck be true, unlike the vast majority of his curve-fitting pseudoscience, there is no way to know from the information presented. A stopped clock is right twice a day after all. But let’s do a ten minute analysis while in bed with my laptop.
Norwegian wheat production may be down to the land being shifted to other crops for economic or political reasons. Sometimes it’s just cheaper to import one thing and produce another, or perhaps biofuel subsidies made crop switching profitable.
A cursory search found this:
“Yields in 2001 included 1,203,000 tons of grain (51% barley, 28% oats, 21% wheat) and 388,200 tons of potatoes. … Norway imports most of its grain and large quantities of its fruits and vegetables.”
Read more: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/Norway-AGRICULTURE.html#ixzz2gsKoD4iB
Since wheat was apprx 21 % of Norwegian grain production in 2001, a shifting from barley and oats to wheat due to market forces and then back again could easily account for the wheat production graph. A little more searching for total grain production found this:
http://www.ssb.no/a/english/kortnavn/korn_en/tab-2012-11-27-02-en.html
There’s definitely been an up and down swing in total grain production in the last 25 years, with a bounty year in 2004, but it looks like the majority of the decline in wheat has just been shifting to barley, oats, and rye. Perhaps for climate reasons, but just as likely for market or political reasons, as grain is not the majority of agriculture in Norway.
Of course then there’s this:
“Since 1928, the state has subsidized Norwegian grain production; a state monopoly over the import of grains maintains the price of Norwegian-grown grains. The Ministry of Agriculture has divisions dealing with agricultural education, economics, and other aspects. Each county has an agricultural society headed by a government official. These societies, financed half by the district and half by the state, implement government schemes for improving agricultural practices.”
Read more: http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Europe/Norway-AGRICULTURE.html#ixzz2gsNpzVBb
So who knows what is happening and why? I sure don’t, and I guarantee Archibald doesn’t as well.
Paging Tor, personal friend and WUWT reader from Norway, could you weigh in please? I guess I’ll have to send a facebook message.

David Y

Echoing an earlier comment–total wheat production is meaningless as it ignores total acreage devoted to production, which could have fallen off a cliff. Likewise with oil production; market forces (current and forecast market price) also determine how MUCH oil one is willing to extract. Oil wells (at least land-based; this may or may not be the case with offshore rigs) sometimes sit idle if the marginal profitability of each barrel is not compelling. How competitive is Norwegian oil vs allternative sources? Is Norway using foreign (or domestically) sourced natural gas?

Greg

It looks like Norwegian grain production is a pretty good proxy for NH surface temperature anomaly. With a baseline near 1965 when it was close to zero.
Yet another indicator of a climate turning point in 2005.
They try to spin this as due to climate change with mention of excess moisture … read stronger and more frequent flooding … read unattributable climate weirding.
If it is due to ‘climate change’ it would seem to be more likely the climate cooling kind.

Mike Maguire

Is it getting warmer or is it getting colder?
Is there global warming or do we have global cooling?
2 incredibly polar opposite views with the debate, more often than not focused on this and climate and weather. While the most amazing contribution to growing crops related to the atmosphere has been the fertilizing effect in the globally well mixed and increasing CO2.
Crops yields and world food production is benefiting greatly.
About 85% of plant species are C3 plants. They include the cereal grains: wheat, rice, barley, oats. Peanuts, cotton, sugar beets, tobacco, spinach, soybeans, and most trees are C3 plants. Most lawn grasses such as rye and fescue are C3 plants.
Corn is a C4 crop.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/photosynthesis-and-co2-enrichment/
“At present atmospheric levels of CO2, C4 plants are more efficient at photosynthesis than C3: in absolute conversion efficiency of light energy to stored chemical energy they are around 7% efficient, compared to 4% for C3.
As CO2 concentrations increase, the photosynthetic efficiency gap between C3 and C4 plants rapidly closes, and at double today?s CO2 concentration (i.e. at 780 ppm instead of today?s 390 ppm), the photosynthesis rates are the same. Incidentally, the majority of the world?s most troublesome weeds use the C4 pathway, and so have a competitive advantage over C3 crops at current CO2 concentrations. At higher CO2 concentrations, competing for the same resources on the same patch (light, water, CO2, nutrients etc), C3 crops increasing out-compete the weeds.
At double CO2 concentration, not only has the efficiency of C3 crops improved tremendously, but the temperature at which optimal photosynthesis occurs in C3 increases up to that of C4. Thus the vast majority of food crops will benefit hugely by increased CO2, and even more so by increased CO2 coupled with warming.”

Richard G

“The problem is sprouting of grain on the stalk prior to harvest due to excessive humidity. ”
Sprouting is the first step in making malt by creating enzymes that convert starch to sugar. Sprouting on the stem, send directly to the roaster, make mash,add water and hops, boil wort, make beer.
There, problem solved.

Norwegians For Global Warming?

phlogiston

Here is an academic presentation of wheat production in Norway made in 2009:
http://www.umb.no/statisk/imt/Wheat_production.pdf
It shows the same histogram of % of domestic production as David Archibald’s article, except oddly it terminates in 2006.
Data is given for the area under cultivation for wheat and cereals, the absence of historic year-to-year acerages suggests these numbers have not changed substantially.
While some loss of production might be caused by land use changes, the fall of almost 50% since 2009 seems highly likely to have a climate component. We know summers have been bad since then. I’m going to Trondheim next week, I’ll ask someone.

Mike Maguire says: October 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm
Helpful. Thank you Mike.
Best, Allan

vukcevic

charles the moderator says:
October 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm
………..So who knows what is happening and why? I sure don’t.
Hi
It is very simple, oil and gas prices have been rising in the last 10 or so years, Norway exports giga giga-buckets of both and getting very very rich. It is far cheaper to import US or Canadian, Ukrainian or ‘wheatever’ than bother with growing its own.

vigilantfish

@ charles the moderator: Thanks for injecting some coherence into this thread.

Looks like Norwegian wheat flour production is an excellent proxy for “climate change”. Who needs tree rings!

Greg

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/
Not identical but a strong similarity.

Keith, not that much different, approx 54 down to 30 Iif you add in 2012/3. That’s a 44% drop in yield/hectare. Murray

Jimbo

We must act now to tackle climate change. Now, where are those early springs I keep hearing about? It went absent in the UK too this year.

Poorest grain harvest in 37 years
…..The main reason for the poor 2013 harvest seems to be the late spring, and in addition the grain acreage in Norway has been considerably reduced, NRK reports.
http://www.norwaypost.no/index.php/news/latest-news/29011-poorest-grain-harvest-in-37-years

BBC – 30 May 2013
Spring was coldest in 50 years, say Met Office figures [UK]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22719709

[my bold]

AndyG55

From charles’ link, since last year.. wheat down 50, barley up 50.

AndyG55

sorry, that’s from 2011 to 2012.

Kaboom

Increased imports of cheaper EU subsidized wheat, anyone? Norway is not a EU member but preferred trading partner and may profit from importing cheaper wheat from the south which in turn would reduce incentive to grow it domestically. It would also be interesting to see if there is a shift in what farmers put on their fields over the years. Maybe they are now preferring a cash crop?

Rab McDowell

The world record for wheat yield per hectare is held, not by European countries or by North America, but in the southern part of the South Island of New Zealand. And yet NZ, by world standards, grows very little wheat. Despite the yield, the most productive farm land use is usually something else such as dairying and it is cheaper to import wheat from much lower yielding countries such as Australia.
Same for Norway. Grow what suits it best. I can’t imagine that that is wheat.

Sigmundb

Bad growing season for centre and eastern Norway this year, late spring and Cold/damp summer months,
Norway is in reality to far North/to Cold for wheat, traditionally we grow barley and some Oats, wheat only on the plots with long seasons. Some special incentives and warm, good summers made more and more farmers take the risk on wheat as you can see from Davids graph. 2007 was a very good year with bumper crops and high quality, later years with less favourable conditions have started a downward spiral with less yelds, less profit and reduced wheat area. Especially autumn wheat is reduced since the harvesting in bad years can be to late for sowing.
Norwegian wheat was never really good for flour anyway, baking was so much easier with Canadian or Australian wheat.
You shoud not read much into these statistics, it is weather not climate. 🙂
But building up a few years supply of grains (we still have the silos) as David suggest may happen, it is picking up political momentum now.
Luckily we have made a lot of large oil field discoveries lately and the export will pick up over the next 5 years, Also the graph is misleading, we export a lot more gas then oil now and at very good prices compared to the US.
The CCS at the Mongstad gas power facility was a sad event in Norwegian politics. Against all technical and commercial advice the project was started for purely political reasons (The green party demanded it as a concession to join the centre-left coalition that ruled Norway for the last 8 years) and it just could’t be shut down as evidence of the financial impossibility of the Project became evident years ago.

Latitude

Sigmundb says:
October 5, 2013 at 1:59 pm
Norway is in reality to far North/to Cold for wheat
===
no kidding….almost all of the production is above 60 N lat
Other than the obvious….that would be Alaska

Chad Wozniak

Yes, global warming is responsible for the cold in Norway and the humongous snowstorm hitting the Great Plains, earliest on record, here in the US. It’s also responsible for the government shutdown and the IRS coimuing after Dr. Ben Carson. The former is sarc, the latter probably not.

Alan Robertson

Kaboom says:
October 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm
“Increased imports of cheaper EU subsidized wheat, anyone?…Maybe they are now preferring a cash crop?”
___________________
Panama Red, Acapulco Gold- Oslo Orange, Bergen Blue?

jorgekafkazar

Keith DeHavelle says: “As UnfrozenCavemanMD suggests, The area should be emphatic
Once area yield is addressed, The graph comes out much less dramatic:”
http://www.factfish.com/statistic-country/norway/wheat,%20yield
That’s a heck of a chart. Run your mouse along the data line. Nice.

Janice Moore

You have to hand it to the Norwegians (I salute you, Sigmund), once they see something is worth a try, they give it 100%. When they see it isn’t working (after getting herring heads like the “Greens” out of the way), they STOP. NOW.
How strong is the Norwegian influence? I’m only 1/16th Norwegian and I am proud of that, lol. Yes, yes, I know, pride is just about the only manifestation of those genes in me #(:))

Mankind can indeed change a climate, land use.
Was there any deforestation involved with that expanded wheat farm area?. Any new dams in the area? Do they burn wood pellets? Do they make wood pellet?. Any Bio-diesel production?
Just wondering.

Gene Selkov

UnfrozenCavemanMD says:
> If interested in the effect of climate on wheat production, total production is meaningless without an area under cultivation as the denominator. Isn’t this the better graph?
Both metrics are interesting. A fall in production as steep as this clearly indicates the diminution of suitable land, even though the productivity in remaining areas may still be good. As an extreme example, we know from archaeology that wheat and barley were grown in the north of Scotland, at the elevations around 200 metres and higher, only about a millennium ago. Now there are only ferns and mosses there. It’s not that the present climate is too bad for wheat; it is way too good for the mosses.
On a related note, I had been following the wheat-growing effort in Iceland (just by flying over it) until last year, when I knew it was snowed in in the first days of September. I wonder if the effort is still ongoing.

Keith W

Norway is small player in the global cereals production market and despite bad crop years in various places overall global production will be up 8% this year. Wheat production and stocks will be lower.
Keith W
See the http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/csdb/en/
“The outlook for global cereal supply in the 2013/14 marketing season remains generally favourable despite downward adjustments to forecasts for world cereal production and closing stocks.*
At 2 489 million tonnes, FAO’s current forecast for world cereal production in 2013 is marginally lower (3 million tonnes) than reported in September, mainly reflecting poorer prospects for the South America wheat crop, following adverse weather. Despite the adjustment, world cereal production would still surpass the 2012 level by nearly 8 percent. This significant growth is mainly the result of an 11 percent anticipated expansion in coarse grains output to about 1 288 million tonnes. The United States, the world’s largest maize producer, would account for the bulk of the increase, as it is expected to harvest a record maize crop of 348 million tonnes, 27 percent higher than the previous year’s drought-reduced level.
World cereal utilization in 2013/14 is now anticipated at 2 415.5 million tonnes, up 3.3 percent from the 2012/13 estimated level. This forecast has been raised slightly since September, due to upward revisions to wheat and coarse grains, which more than offset a downward revision to rice. Total use of cereals for direct human consumption is expected to reach 1 094 million tonnes in 2013/14, up 1.3 percent from 2012/13. Wheat (479 million tonnes) and rice (409 million tonnes) account for the bulk of the human consumption of cereals. World feed use is expected to absorb 850 million tonnes of cereals, 5.3 percent more than in 2012/13.”

Mike Croift

I use the ripe tomato index here in Tacoma Washington. It has been 4 years since I was able to ripen any of the larger tomato varieties. My friend In England has also given up on large tomatoes as well.

AndyG55

Walter J Horsting says:
“Wait until sun cycle 25 kicks in!”
Ian W says:
“It would appear that “shuffles” may be a better description than “kicks””
Anyone for Limbo ??

charles the moderator

Well, this post did inspire me to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito where I had:
Fersk roget laks med flodesuvet spinat at The Lighthouse, my favorite (Norwegian) diner.

Janice Moore

Dear Charles (the Mo-d-er-ator),
I hope it was all you happily anticipated as you zoomed up the highway. Good? (btw — what in the world did you eat? My guess is salmon and spinach soufflé).
Thanks for mo-der-ating!
Janice
Reply: I don’t really moderate these days. I just still have the screen name and the admin rights ~ctm
Reply 2: Oh yeah, the dish was gravlax and creamed spinach ~ctm

Alan Robertson

Charles, no lutefisk? (Or is that really just a joke they play on tourists?)

climatologist

Well, at least the Norwegians were smart enough to invest their oil money wisely, instead of squandering it.