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Israeli potato crop damaged by frost

Last weekend, Israel was struck by a sudden cold spell which brought frost conditions to several parts of the country, causing serious damages to fruit and vegetable crops. The lost production could be worth up to 15 million shekels (3.55 million Euro), as estimated by KANAT, the national insurance fund for weather damages in agriculture, which received upwards of 200 reports of damages in just two days.
Most of the damage has been registered in the Negev, especially to potato crops, and losses to producers in the region are estimated at about NIS 10 million (2.37 million Euro).

Routinely in cases of frost, the most damages are inflicted on crops grown in open fields, such as potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes, and indeed that is where the majority of reports were recorded. Potatoes were most severely damaged as a large portion of the production comes from the southern region of the country which was hit with widespread frost.

Frost events are not unusual in Israel, however, it is most common for such cold spells to occur in the middle of winter (late December to February) and to be limited to certain areas, primarily in the northern part of the country. This effectively caught some growers unprepared and may have intensified the damages.

According to KANAT chief executive, Dudi Ginzburg, roughly a quarter of damages to fresh produce in Israel in the last decade comes from frost; in 2014 alone, some 60 million shekels were paid out due to frost damages. He added that on top of the lost production, frost also damages the growth and development of crops, indicating that the damages could continue to be felt in the future.

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