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  • Niko Benas

July 11, 2023 - Exciting summer evenings in the southern Palatinate

Many landscape photographers (myself included) like the summer months the least to photograph. Clear blue skies are just plain boring for some subjects, the sun rises quickly and climbs high into the ether, resulting in heavy shadows and little structure. As a result, I only go out in the summer when the weather app reports thunderstorms approaching or receding, preferably in the afternoon.

Dramatic sceneries, ominous thunderstorm cells, glistening lightning, pretty bales of straw, endless fields of sunflowers and the most beautiful evening colors are the motifs that I hope for.

I prefer to go to the Palatinate, which likes to boast of being the Tuscany of Germany. Not only because there is a mild, almost Mediterranean climate. Nine of the ten hottest summers on record have been recorded there since 1976. The southern Palatinate is particularly affected. The average temperatures in the Anterior and Southern Palatinate are already 1.7 degrees Celsius above the average temperatures of the period between 1881 and 1910. In the Rhine plain in particular, it should be a little warmer.

Both heavy rainfall and thunderstorms and changeable weather are simply part of a hot summer in the Palatinate. In 2021 there were a particularly large number of thunderstorms there. Scientists suspect that the increasing volume in this country is related to the so-called jet stream, the engine of which seems to be weak at the moment.

However, mid-June to the end of August is not just the time for thunderstorms, the grain is usually ready for harvest.

As in a never-ending cycle, the same "game" is repeated on the fields this summer. As much of the harvest as possible should be brought in before the next thunderstorm approaches. After threshing, numerous bales of hay lie on the fields, a very special landscape idyll. Those farmers who are through with the harvest hurry to bring the pressed straw bales into the barns or sell them. With a bit of luck you can catch a field where the photogenic straw bales make an enchanting motif. These come into their own in the golden evening light.

In addition, summer is also sunflower time! These daisies bloom most of the summer into October. The cultivation of sunflowers is actually of secondary importance in the Southwest Palatinate.

You rarely see a field with this oil crop here in the region. About 15 years ago there was a subsidy for the cultivation of this crop. Since an almost Mediterranean weather situation has become more and more prevalent in our latitudes, the topic has become even more interesting for farmers in the Southwest Palatinate.

In the meantime, however, some of the sunflowers have also suffered from the drought, because they are not big and strong everywhere. The course of the next two summer months will decide whether it will be a successful harvest. Above all, the farmer needs sufficient sunshine at the beginning of autumn so that the oil fruit can be harvested when it is ripe and dry.


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