280 liters of water per month
“After the potatoes arrived, it started raining incessantly in this area,” Vandrum continues. “We’ve had 25 rainy days out of 30, and about 280 liters fell last month. That’s double what it has been in many other years. “Vandrum said: “Similar problems are occurring everywhere in Flanders, but some areas are more seriously affected.” It is estimated that on average 20 percent of the Flemish potato area has not yet been harvested. “In Limburg, for example, this percentage is 10 percent “Here in Westhoek and the rest of south-west Flanders this percentage is 30 percent or more.”
In addition to the rainfall, certain areas of Westhoek also have to deal with the River Eijs overflowing its banks and flooding some fields and buildings. “Many homes have been evacuated as a result and agricultural companies may also have to evacuate their livestock,” Vandrum continues, noting that the biggest nuisance has moved from the Watteau area to the Staffel and Dixmued area.
According to him, the river is unable to drain the water that has collected in northern France into the sea in a timely manner. “In recent years, there have been several requests to dredge the river in order to increase its capacity, but nothing has been done,” explains Vandrum. However, precautionary measures have been taken in the past to reduce river flooding for residents. For example, water barriers have been created around Bobring to store water and drain it in a controlled manner.
Although the Ijzier River often causes floods, the problems facing farmers are greater this year compared to other years. This also has a lot to do with the atypical harvest year. Due to heavy rains in the spring, farmers were unable to plant plants until late in the spring, delaying planting. “Normally, the last potatoes are received at the beginning of October. This year, because of the late start, farmers have postponed the harvest somewhat in hopes of achieving a slightly larger size,” says Vandrum.
In Derecki’s case, there’s another factor at play. In addition to potatoes, the farmer also grows onions, beans and cauliflower. The latter in particular really messed up the layout. “The cauliflower was ready earlier than usual. They usually have between 115 and 130 days of growth, but this year it was 95 days. So the farmer had to get the cauliflower in early and his hands were full. “We finished this in the middle of October and there wasn’t enough time to get the potatoes. Also because the contractors worked overtime and did not have machines available.
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