This week’s weather around the Mediterranean caused a lot of damage in the south of France; the French government declared a state of natural disaster. In Béziers, 6 gallons per square feet fell in 24 hours. Other municipalities in France and in Spain were also severely affected. The episode inevitably has consequences for the fruit and vegetable sector.
“We have not drawn a report yet, but several crops have been affected in France and in Spain,” reports Charles Farran de Ritex, wholesaler based in Perpignan. “In France, it is the season of autumn and winter vegetables like artichokes and lettuce. For those products, water is not necessarily a bad thing, and we hope that there won’t be too much damage. The apple and pear orchards are probably also affected. Other products like the tomatoes are grown in greenhouses so they will not be directly impacted. However, several greenhouses have been destroyed by the storm in the region of Nîmes and Avignon.”
In Spain, the Mediterranean episode also had some impact. “Grapes were severely affected by the water,” explains Charles, who imports a lot of his products from Spain.
Nearly 108,000 square feet of greenhouses blown away
As he was about to pick his lettuce, Eric Vidal saw a small tornado, on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, blow away 108,000 square feet of his farm located at the heart of the Jardins Saint Jacques. He reported to the newspaper L’Indépendent that “everything is ruined, both the facilities and all the lettuce of course, which is mostly produced for fast food restaurants. We were supposed to harvest in 10 days, it’s a dry loss. Luckily, I have insurance.”
The cause of the damage is a devastating blast limited to one corridor. More minor damage has been reported in the same area. “When I arrived at the greenhouses, I understood right away that something had happened. The greenhouses in the back were completely crushed. It was like a bull ran through, destroying everything. The surprising thing is that the other facilities, right next to them, were not affected at all,” explains Eric.
The farm had already suffered from a similar situation in January 2009 with storm Klaus. “After the expert’s report, we will have to disassemble, clean and rebuild everything. We won’t get any lettuce until next summer.” The farm is likely to lay off part of its staff temporarily.