With the frost episodes from last week, French producers have suffered heavy losses. Theo Kampschoer of Kampexport looks back on this complicated week.
In the upper Rhône valley near Tain-l’Hermitage, in Ardèche and in the region of Mercurol, temperatures went down to -4°C, causing considerable damage. “The lucky ones will be left with about 20% of their harvest, but most producers have lost almost their entire harvest,” explains Theo Kampschoer.
For some producers near the Luberon, in Malaucène for example, the losses reach 50%. “The fruit are ruined. For a few producers, it is the fifth year in a row like this. Some will even have to quit completely.”
The Vaucluse was not spared either by the freezing temperatures. “In the flat areas, between the mountains and in the valleys is where there is the most frost. It got so cold that using fans did not change a thing. As for those using the sprinkler technique, with the frost, the fruit ended up covered with a 4cm layer of ice.”
“In some areas, and near Perpignan especially, the losses will amount to 20%, but higher up, it will reach almost 100%.”
Price increase to be expected
For the producers working with Kampexport, the harvest should reach 30 to 50% for the luckiest ones. “With the lack of fruit, prices will be higher, especially since Italy and Spain are faced with the same problems. In Lleida, nearly half of the harvest is destroyed. Overall in Europe, it is a very bad year for fruit.”
Exceptionally low temperatures
The apricot sector was particularly hit, but cherries, apples and pears are also affected. “It is a very difficult year for the apricot. The cherry is also affected, as well as the apple and the pear, in Lot-et-Garonne for example. This year will be remembered and compared to 2003. In the vineyards, some had not seen anything like that for nearly three generations.”
Despite all the methods used to fight against the frost, “as soon as it drops below -2°C, it gets very complicated. Unfortunately, not much can be done. In the Crau region for example, such temperatures had not been experienced for 80 years.”
“The climate has changed a lot. Twenty years ago, the season would start around mid-July. Nowadays, it starts around mid-May. The risks are increased with all those varieties that make an earlier start,” explains Theo Kampschoer. “Some had even started thinning already in order to get bigger fruit.”