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Italy - Hailstorm Apulia - is it game over for cherry campaign?

20th May 2016 will be remembered for the huge hailstorm that hit Apulia, as if growers didn’t have to deal with climate change already. The hailstorm hit the northern Bari area, while in Turi, well-known for the Ferrovia variety, there were heavy rains mixed with hail stones. The rest of the region (south of Bari, Taranto and Foggia) was hit by heavy rain.

The first Facebook comments right after the event read “A disaster for cherries!”, “We are worried for all crops”, “May shouldn’t be like this, what happened to the seasons?”.

“Ferrovia cherries were hit too! Game over!”. (Photo: Facebook)

A grower said that “losses for the Ferrovia cultivar in Conversano reach 60-80%, while 30% of the Giorgia variety has been damaged. In Casamassima and Acquaviva, the few cherries that survived the first wave of bad weather have been completely destroyed.”

“The produce was early but, with what happened, the Ferrovia variety will be late. Quotations in Casamassima-Castellaneta are €7-7.50/kg for the best batches and €4-4.50/kg for Giorgia cherries.”

The effects of the water, cold temperatures and humidity on table grapes will be visible only in a few days. “At the moment, the fruit is looking healthy. We are ready to deal with any problems and avoid the mistakes of 2014 (when downy mildew developed).”

Cherries from Apulia represent 40% of the total domestic production. Other crops and structures were also damaged. Cia Puglia asked the region’s governor Michele Emiliano and councillor for agriculture Leonardo di Gioia to create a technical panel, while PD MPs Dario Ginefra and Colomba Mongiello requested recognition of a natural disaster.

(Photo: Facebook)

The greatest damage was recorded in the Bari and BAT provinces. Orchards in Turi, Castellana Grotte, Putignano, Conversano, Corato, Ruvo di Puglia, Molfetta, Bisceglie have been the worst hit. Damages have been estimated at between 70 (in the Corato, Molfetta, Ruvo area) and 100% (in the remaining area). The rain and hail also damaged other crops in Rutigliano, Casamassima, Andria, San Ferdinando di Puglia and rinitapoli.

Ninety million Euro vanished right at the start of the campaign.
This is the estimate made by Coldiretti Puglia after the two waves of bad weather damaged over 23,000 tons of cherries. One of the worst seasons growers remember, first for the Bigarreau and Georgia varieties and now for Ferrovia.

“Our producers are trying to save what they can, trying to dry what’s left of the cherries to prevent mould,” explain Coldiretti Puglia president Gianni Cantele.

“The Ciliegia Day of the Campagna Amica market was the occasion to finally make consumers taste the Ferrovia cherries that survived despite what happened.”

Repercussions are heavy also because a lot of work hours are no longer necessary, as harvesting will not be carried out.
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