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European cold wave aftermath- Spanish fruit producers severely affected, France spared the worst

Frost by Susanne Nilsson

The cold wave that hit parts of Europe earlier this month seems to have spared the French producers of peaches and apricots, who were severely affected last year. However, it severely affected other European regions, especially the north of Spain where losses are currently estimated at more than 50 million Euro, on top of 11 million caused by persistent rains.

French national minimum temperatures dropped to -1.5 °C (29.3 °F) overnight Sunday and early Monday, April 4, 2022, marking the country’s coldest morning since 1947, according to data provided by Meteo France.1

Growers across the affected regions burned candles, sprayed water and used wind turbines in efforts to protect their crops from freezing temperatures, AFP reported.

Luckily, the temperatures recorded in southeastern France did not reach the levels of last year, and only in a few cases did the temperatures go below -2 °C (28.4 °F), Fresh Plaza reports.2

Unfortunately, some damage has been reported in the most impacted areas, including some hillsides of the Rhône Valley, the high Têt valley and the Baronnies area.

This cold wave, however, seems to have severely affected other European regions, especially the north of Spain: Lerida in Catalonia, Huesca and Zaragoza in Aragon, Navarre, León and Rioja.

The data from LA UNIÓ reveal that more than 33 000 ha (81 540 acres) have been affected by frost.3

The province of Valencia, with 64% of the surface, is the most affected, followed by Castellon with 27% and Alicante with 11%. By regions, the most affected is Utiel-Requena with 17%, followed by La Serranía and La Plana Alta, with 10% and 9%, respectively.

Most of the hectares affected – 80% – correspond to almond trees, another 10% to kakis, 8% to summer fruit and cherries and 2% to vegetables – potatoes, onions and artichoke.

Kakis suffered the heaviest losses with at least 50% lost. This figure could become even higher if the most negative prospects are confirmed.

Almond trees account for 37% of the damage, being the crop with the largest extension. Summer fruit, which had already been badly affected by the rains of recent weeks, represents 7% of the damage and vegetables represent 5%.

More information will be revealed at MedFEL on April 28 when the predictions for the European apricot harvest will be announced and on May 24 during the MedFEL Tuesdays.

“The winter season 2021/2022 was rather mild across many parts of Europe, lacking snow and any particularly strong cold outbreaks,” Marko Korosec of Severe Weather Europe said.4

The reason behind this was the intense Polar Vortex aloft and the decaying La Nina global circulation.

At the end of March, the general weather pattern over the North Atlantic and Europe has flipped to a progressive northerly circulation and a strong upper High has built up over the Atlantic and Arctic region, allowing a deep trough to form on its eastern side, turning south towards Europe and releasing a lot of cold air.

References:

1 Record-breaking cold hits Europe, causing widespread damage to agriculture – The Watchers – April 4, 2022

2 Consequences of the frost on French and European stone fruit productions – Fresh Plaza – April 11, 2022

3 The recent frosts in the Region of Valencia caused losses estimated at 50 million Euro – Fresh Plaza – April 11, 2022

4 The Cold Season weather is forecast to return with snow and freezing return for parts of Europe as we head into early April this weekend – Severe Weather Europe – March 30, 2022

Featured image credit: Susanne Nilsson

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