grain shipment farm
© REUTERS/Dane Rhys/File Photo
French farmers are collecting their smallest corn crop in more than three decades, highlighting the massive toll that summer drought has wrought on Europe's food supplies.

Heat and dryness gripped much of the continent throughout summer, in what may be its worst drought in at least 500 years. That's been particularly brutal for farmers, who are already dipping into winter forage reserves to feed cattle as pastures wither and who face shrinking output of everything from potatoes to sugar.

"No region is spared from the drop in yield," the French ministry said of corn.

French Corn Crunch

france corn crop harvest 2022

Source: UN's FAO

Note: 2021 and 2022 data from French agriculture ministry
The smaller crops threaten to keep food prices high. Consumer food costs in July already jumped 12% from last year in the European Union and even more in the UK. The bloc is importing corn from nations like Ukraine to help ease the shortfall, although sales from the war-torn country are expected to fall by half versus the prior season.

Comment: Some of which was promised to the world's poorest nations: Ukraine breaks promise to ship grain to Africa - NYT

Fields in Germany and Romania, other key EU producers, also suffered from drought. Plus, producers are grappling with spiraling costs of fertilizer and gas, which is used to dry crops like corn after they're harvested.

French corn futures were little changed near the highest in almost three weeks on Tuesday.