French vineyards feel the cold

While Scotland’s farmers might bemoan the sharp frosts and low temperatures which have slowed grass growth to zero and held back emerging spring crops, similar weather patterns have resulted in the declaration of a national disaster in France.

In many of the main wine-producing areas of the country grape growers have claimed that the worst frosts for decades have virtually wiped out this year’s crop, hitting just when vines were at their most vulnerable. Temperatures as low as minus eight were reported to have destroyed buds on grapevines in the world-famous vineyards of Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Languedoc and the Rhône valley.

And despite the use of water misters to reduce the effects of the frosts and the lighting of candles, braziers and even burning bales of straw to ward off the frosts, some areas have claimed that as much as 90 per cent of the crops could be destroyed.

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The cold snap followed unusually high temperatures in mid-March when temperatures peaked at around 26°C, and which had encouraged vegetation to burst into bloom early. Fruit and other crop have also been caught in the arctic blast.

French president Emmanuel Macron issued a message of support to French winemakers and farmers, stating: ‘Hold tight, we are by your side’.

Agriculture minister Julien Denormandie who termed the plummeting temperatures “an episode of extreme violence that has caused very significant damage” has launched the process of declaring an ‘agricultural disaster’ which would enable financial support for winemakers and other farmers facing the loss of their 2021 crop.

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