Farmers rush to take advantage of early summer

Northern Sweden is currently enjoying a heatwave, with temperatures close to 30 degrees Celsius, warmer even than some parts of Southern Europe. And that means that farmers have got to get a move on, and make hay while the sun shines - quite literally.

Eric Lennartsson is a farmer in the north of Sweden, near the city of Umeå. He says to Swedish Radio that when the weather is this dry it is very intense. That this is the time to get the work going, while the sun shines. He says it has been several years since it was this dry, so early.

The fields along the coast near Umeå are full of tractors, reports Swedish Radio, as northern farmers try to make sure the early summer weather will mean an early harvest - and that involves getting the seed in the ground as soon as possible.

To help the plants along Eric Lennartsson is spreading plenty of muck - cow manure. And most of what is grown here will end up feeding a cow, as the cycle continues.

In this part of north-western Sweden, known as Västerbotten, the fields are mostly being planted with grass to be made into hay, or other plants that can be made into cattle feed. This part of the country produces enough milk for the local people, plus some over to export, according to the local county. It is also know for its characteristic Västerbottensost cheese.

Farmer Eric Lennartsson says it is a pretty hectic time.

"Most of the others are in the same situation as me", he says to Swedish Radio. He says it is always stressful in the springtime, but that it is a positive kind of stress.

But is there a risk that there will be too much sunshine and warm weather? Yes, says Eric Lennartsson. If it stays this warm for too long, then there will be nothing left to harvest.

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