Overnight Sunday and early Monday, French wine and fruit growers have been unpleasantly surprised by the coldest April day since 1947. This is the second straight year they have suffered freak spring weather. Growers burned candles, sprayed water and used wind turbines in efforts to protect their crops as temperatures fell below the freezing point, with a record -9.3C in Mourmelon in the Marne department east of Paris.
Experts say freak weather events are increasingly common due to climate change. Temperatures rose on Monday, according to Meteo France forecaster Patrick Galois, but he warned that freezing weather would still occur between the southwest and central France.
Phys.org quoted the French Agriculture Ministry as saying it was "too early" to draw conclusions about the damage. "The damage is only visible after a few days.”
The record low temperatures are expected to have caused severe damage to some fruit and wine production in the country. The frosts came after particularly mild temperatures in March that made shoots develop early, leaving them more fragile to cold snaps.
"This was another terrible night for fruit growers and winegrowers with temperatures down to -5 or -6 degrees Celsius (21.2°F)," Christiane Lambert, head of France's largest farm union FNSEA said in an interview. Producers of fruits such as plums, cherries, apples, pears were the most hit and some were set to lose at least 80% of their harvest, she said.
Reuters.com reported on the fact that fresh fruit prices gained 4% in 2021, far above the rise of the average food index at 0.6%, statistics office Insee said. A rise this year would come at a time when inflation is already hitting record highs in France, although fresh fruit and vegetable account for less than 2% of the total consumer price index in France.
Owners of the ice-coated vines on the hillsides around Chablis in the Burgundy region are worried that the frost will kill off large numbers of early buds.