"All tomato crops have been compromised and the damage is great also for table grapes - respectively 60 and 30% of the produce has been lost," explains Giorgio Mercuri, President of Alleanza delle Cooperative agroalimentari.
"The tomato crops are the same that were hit by hailstorms last summer, so producers and cooperatives cannot return advance payments to banks. In addition, labourers will have no work."
According to Coldiretti Puglia, in the Foggia province, the tomatoes that had yet to be harvested have been destroyed and pre-seeding operations have been compromised. In Galatina, a hailstorm damaged vegetable crops.
Cia Puglia reports that 2,300 hectares of tomato crops have been destroyed. The damage amounts to dozens of million euros. In addition, the rain will probably affect the quality of the produce and could cause mould and diseases.
In the Bari province, the incessant and heavy rain could be a great problem for table grapes, which could become unsellable. The situation is worrying, but a few days must pass before the damage can be truly assessed.
Prof. Giancarlo Colelli from the University of Foggia explains that "it has been raining heavily and for a prolonged period of time. This means water is moving quickly and eroding the soil. Often, when it could not reach the sea, water flooded dozens of hectares. Grape harvesting is blocked in many areas. Of course, bad land preservation contributed to creating this situation.
Ostuni, one of the worse hit areas.