On the heels of an early spring, winter makes a comeback
As I was boarding a plane Wednesday morning at the Verona airport, I turned to look to the north.
A fierce, cold wind whipped the open tarmac and a line of clouds boiled over the Alps, harbingers of the storm to come.
“It looks bad,” said a fellow passenger, with whom I had been talking earlier in the airport. He eyed the massive front moving south over the land. “It might be a bad night for winemakers.”
And indeed it was. As Jeremy Parzens reported Friday in his blog, newspapers across northern Italy are reporting temperatures Thursday night reaching well below zero (C) and fears of widespread damage to grapes, tomatoes, asparagus and other agricultural products.
The cold arrived after days of springlike weather and is feared to have devastating affects on the economy, although it’s still a bit early to tell how great.
In Valdobiaddene, famed for its Prosecco DOCG, growers woke Thursday to frost on the Glera vines after temperatures dropped to 1 below zero. And another frost is expected for tonight (Friday, April 22). This after what had been an early start to the growing season and lots of tender new shoots on the vines.
Other fruit growers (the area produces apricots and kiwi, among other crops) also expect to see damage to their young fruit.
“The weather this year is scary,”‘ said Stefania Kofler, chairman of the fruit growing sector of Confagricoltura Treviso.
Il Gazettino in Pordenone reported that additional damage could put the local “viticulture and fruit cultivation on its knees.” The reporter, David Lisette, noted that this isn’t the region’s first experience with late spring frosts, but other stories said the occurrent of events is increasing.
Lisette cites a statement from Coldiretti, the agricultural federation of Emilia-Romagna, where temperatures fell to 3 degrees below zero (27 F), which said the sudden swings in temperatures, and recent “heavy impacts on agriculture” including “the rapid transition from drought to flood, short and violent rainfall accompanied by hail and (f)rost” is part of the changing climate occurring across Italy.
And ANSA, the Italian version of our Associated Press, said such climate impacts have resulted in a loss of 1.billion (euros) in agricultural products over the past 10 years. The story was accompanied by the photo shown here, of a well-frosted tomato plant.