“This is the last field left in our parish. Hunched to the ground those [buckwheat] are, of course, some have also spilled into the autumn winds,“ said Arnis Ķibers, chairman of the board of the Jeru Parish co-operative society “Daiva,” showing a field of buckwheat still unharvested.
Overall, the autumn has been quite harsh because the rain has rained intensely and often. “A few days had to be caught when the rain was less, and even then the fields were already flooding,” Ķibers said.
Renārs Sproģis, the owner of the Billes farm in Cēsis municipality, also confirmed that the main problem is getting the machinery to the field right now.
"It's so wet that tractors are sinking. It's not good to harvest at that point when there have been a couple of snowy days. In turn, you can't do it again at this point because the tractor goes down like in a swamp,” Sproģis said.
One might wonder why buckwheat couldn't be harvested sooner when it was warm and sunny, but it turns out autumn frosts matter to buckwheat.
"Like trees in nature, buckwheat needs the first frost. Now is the moment when [trees] need to knock the leaves down on the roots to survive. Buckwheat has similarities – the first frost 'shakes' it,” explained Sproģis.
There are currently only two possibilities – wait a couple of weeks in the hope that the frost will come, or discard the buckwheat, Sproģis said.
For farmers, the challenge this autumn is not just the damp fields, but the price, as it is much lower this autumn than last year.
"If there was an average price between €600 and €680 per tonne last year, which you could earn well with, then this year's organic buckwheat [price per tonne] is €450. Let's not talk about the conventional buckwheat at all, there's a price around €280, there, I think things are bad, there's no point even harvesting,” Sproģis said.
Mareks Bērziņš from the Farmer's Saeima, explained the low price due to bringing buckwheat into Latvia from neighboring countries.
"Imports from adjacent countries. It is good for residents that the price is low, but the farmer will be a loser this year," Bērziņš said.
Since the purchase price of buckwheat is lower than for other years, it should not increase in shops.
"If buckwheat is now priced at around €250 a tonne [...], it's 25 cents a kilogram. I remember at one point buckwheat was even worth €3 a kilo. There will certainly be no such price," Bērziņš said.