From: Reuters
Published February 28, 2008 08:16 AM

Record-warm winter in Finland may boost crops

HELSINKI (Reuters) - The warmest winter ever recorded in Finland may boost grain crops as the growing season is likely to be longer than usual, experts said on Thursday.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute said the December-February period was the warmest since records began more than 100 years ago, with average temperatures about 5 degrees Celsius (9 Fahrenheit) higher than usual.

Temperatures averaged above freezing point in southern Finland this winter. The balmy weather was partially due to global warming, meteorologists have said.

Southern and southwestern parts of the Nordic country known for its harsh Arctic winters had snow cover for only 20 days, well below the more than 70 usually.

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"Early growth season in the spring would give better chances for grains," Agriculture Ministry researcher Anneli Partala said, but added the warm winter might also contribute to problems.

"It is not certain whether the warm winter is good or bad ... there may be mould problems or diseases."

Finland is one of the smallest grain producers in the European Union. Its 2007 grain harvest reached 4.14 million tonnes, the country's second-highest after 4.3 million tonnes in 1990.

(Reporting by Sakari Suoninen and Sami Torma; editing by Chris Johnson)

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