“Hangover” of French farmers in front of an “exceptional” frost

“Catastrophic”, “Dramatic” : the gel which covered a large part of the France this week is shaping up to be one of the worst in decades, with many crops including vines, fruit trees and even cereals having been hit, from north to south of the country.

” A lot [d’agriculteurs] have a hangover this morning, believe me ”, summarizes Sébastien Prouteau, president of the FNSEA in Indre-et-Loire.

Wine and fruit professionals are particularly struck.

“There is no more life”

In Bordeaux, Dominique Guignard crushes frozen vine leaves in his hands. “It breaks like glass because there is no more water, it has dried up completely, there is no more life”, notes the president of the Graves wine union.

“There is a lot of distress, a lot of emotion”, said Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie on BFMTV, a few hours before going to Indre-et-Loire, to support the wine industry, then to go on Saturday to arboriculturalists in the Rhône Valley.

“The situation is unprecedented, exceptional, it concerns both viticulture, both arboriculture, and field crops”, he added.

“It’s a national phenomenon. We can try to go back in history, there were episodes in 1991, 1997, 2003 but there, in my opinion, we exceed all the indicators ”, notes Jérôme Despey, secretary general of the FNSEA and winegrower in the Hérault.

This episode is “One of the most serious of recent decades”, also believes the CNIV, which brings together wine professionals under appellation. “We already know that we will have a very poor harvest in 2021”, declared its president Jean-Marie Barillère.

Also president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne, Jean-Marie Barillère “Think that there is a lot of damage in the Champagne vineyard, in particular in the Chardonnay grape variety where the buds had emerged”.

Several days to quantify the losses

Professionals agree that it will take several days before quantifying the losses which will be all the more important as the flowering – stopped dead by frost – was well underway, thanks to the mild temperatures that had preceded.

“33 degrees difference in 10 days, the vegetation suddenly stopped. Never seen ! In exceptional circumstances, exceptional measures are essential ”, tweeted the president of the majority union FNSEA Christiane Lambert, who plans to go to Ardèche and Drôme.

In this department, Daniel Betton inspects his apricot trees. “We see that it is necrotic, the cells have burst, the fruit will not grow, it will fall”, describes the arborist, predicting that “The harvest is lost for this year”.

The Ministry of Agriculture announced on Thursday that it would “Start the implementation” of agricultural disaster regime, in particular provided by the State, to help arboriculture.

He also recalled that this device was not called upon to intervene in cases where insurance can be taken out, such as for arable crops or vineyards.

Read also : The agricultural calamity regime will be activated because of the frost: what is this device for?

“Too few hectares of vines are protected”

“Unfortunately, too few hectares of vines are protected. Out of 800,000 hectares in France, only 200,000 are insured ”, says Jérôme Despey.

In Lot-et-Garonne, the young shoots of the entente plum tree, which is used to make the famous Agen prune, “Are 100% lost in many orchards”, reports the arboriculture manager of the local chamber of agriculture, Rémy Muller.

In Savoie, worried apple and pear producers call the advisers of the chamber of agriculture to the chain, who tour the plots.

In the plains, “We are tense and anxious, we will wait a week or so, maybe a little more, to find out more” on the impact of frost on cereals, says Eric Thirouin, president of the AGPB wheat producers’ union.

According to Ghislain Malatesta of the Technical Institute of Beetroot, cited by French Beetroot, “20,000 to 30,000 hectares of beet could be destroyed”, or 7 to 8% of the French beet area.

Producers, who fear another drop in the thermometer early next week, “ unfortunately get used to the worst since, there, the episodes become chronic ”, remark François Robin, from the Nantes Wines Federation (Muscadet, Big plant from Nantes and Coteaux d’Ancenis).

“Before,” he says, “freezes were every ten years, now it’s almost every two years, so they also get used to yo-yo yields. “

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