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Italy - Helicopter fights frost

Hotel Weingut Pacherhof in Varna (Bolzano) uploaded a video showing a helicopter trying to mix the upper and warmer with the lower and cooler layers of air. As explained by meteorologist Pierluigi Randi, this represents a (partial) solution to avoid frost on fields.

In addition to the helicopter, torches were also lit – as they burn, they increase the temperature by a few tenth of a degree. What we see in the video is a vineyard, but the same technique was used for the many apple orchards in the area.

A helicopter flying over a vineyard to mix air layers The situation is worse in some areas of Piedmont. Danilo Falco owns an agricultural business in Roccasparvera (Cuneo), 645 m asl, at the entrance of the Stura valley.

Blueberry flowers after the frost

“I wanted to report that the frost in the nights between Tuesday and Friday last week, when temperatures dropped below -5°C, seriously damaged my blueberry orchards and chestnut groves. The season has been compromised. The damage on chestnut groves is 100% while for blueberries the loss will probably be around 80%. However we’re still not sure about the real damage as we have to wait a few days to fully assess it.”

Lauro Paoli from Val di Non (Trento) reports that “the anti-frost systems were activated for at least three nights and helped a lot. However, it will only be possible to assess the damage in 15-20 days’ time, when dropping will end.”

The frost between 19th-22nd April 2017 damaged a lot of orchards in Switzerland as well. As the temperature had risen above average before Easter, trees had blossomed two weeks early.

The Svizzera Frutta association is still unable to calculate the damage, though, as it is waiting for information from the leading fruit production areas. “It’s serious. We expect the damage to amount to tens of millions of Francs,” reports director Georg Bregy.

Special torches lit in Jenins orchards and vineyards.

A few producers reported that frost had never caused so much damage in the past 40 years. For some companies, the harvest has been entirely destroyed. “Such losses threaten the existence of some of these businesses. In addition, insurance doesn’t cover the risks involved with these situations and it should be producers themselves who implement measures against frost,” explains the director.

Some producers managed to protect their crops, especially in the Rodano plain and near large lakes (for example, around Lake Geneva and Lake Constance).

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