"Going into the cataclysms the weather will become unpredictable, with torrential rainstorms where not expected, and droughts likewise where not expected. Extremes of temperature will be experienced. Unusually warm winters, where the trees and shrubs will start to bud, thinking spring, and then be subjected to frost. Similarly, frosts will come late in the spring, almost into summer, killing the buds which have already put forth their tender shoots."  ZetaTalk - Crop Failure

This grim forecast from 1995 has become a reality.  In just the past 7 days, the following reports demonstrate the accuracy of yet another Zeta prediction heralding the return of Planet X.

April 19
Early Budding, Then Cold Snap, Takes Toll on Iowa Vineyards

Richard Black, of Farnhamville, shows the dead grape shoots that followed last week’s three nights of freezing temperatures. Black said the damage is “severe” and estimates at least 75 percent of his crop was ruined.

April 18
Hailstorms Annihilate California Fruit Crops

"I estimate the damage at anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent in fields and orchards where the hail struck. The fruit and nut trees were stripped bare. The trees look like they are in midwinter and haven't even budded yet."

April 18

Wisconsin Cherry Growers Expect 50 Percent Loss From Frost Damage

"I've been doing this pretty much all my life. It's been here 130 years in the family, so I'm the fourth generation, so it's our livelihood," he says.  Robertson says he's been worrying about his trees, which he expects will produce about half the cherries they normally do this year. 

April 16
Cold Causes Devastating Loss for Michigan Grape Crop

Southwestern Michigan grape growers are reeling from last week’s freezing temperatures that seem to have wiped out the majority of this season’s grape crop.  “This is the worst situation we’ve had. ... This is devastating for southwest Michigan growers,"

April 14
Minnesota Apple Crop Crippled by Early Warmth Then Freeze

"It's essentially almost a total crop loss this year," said apple farmer Mike Perbix. Perbix owns Sweetland Orchard in Webster. He says he has lost more than 90 percent of his apple crop.

April 13
Huge Crop Losses in Portugal Due to Frost and Drought

Recent early morning frosts and the ongoing drought, have led to an almost total loss of production in a number of fruit and vegetable farms across the Algarve.

April 12
Frosts Damages Up to 90 Percent of Indiana Blueberry Crops

The overnight lows left some blueberry farms with plenty of damage during a season that had been expected to be the best in years. Some farms saw up to 90 percent damage to their crops.

Freeze Causes Widespread Damage to North Carolina Fruit

Cold temperatures Wednesday night caused widespread damage to fruit crops across Henderson County.  Apple trees bloomed two weeks early as a result of the mild winter, and that left them vulnerable to cold temperatures.



April 19
Early Budding, Then Cold Snap, Takes Toll on Iowa Vineyards

FARNHAMVILLE - Richard Black said he knew the killing frost was possible, even to be expected, but some part of him was hoping it wouldn't happen.  But it did.

Last week, with the first primary grape buds out and a month ahead of schedule, temperatures dipped at official measuring sites to 29 degrees and to 24 degrees on Tuesday. Twenty-eight degrees for four hours is considered a hard frost in farming terms.

But according to Black, his thermometer read 17 degrees overnight on Monday, 16 degrees overnight Tuesday and and in the 20s overnight Wednesday. That was enough, he said, to cause significant yield losses to his grapes, especially his early budding varieties.

"It was bad," Black said, who manages 1,600 grape vines in a 3-acre site around his rural Farnhamville home. "It was devastating."

When told that Mike White, Iowa State University's viticulturist, estimated the statewide grape yield loss at 50 percent, Black said, "That would be good news. But Mike is looking at the entire state."

According to White, vineyards north of I-80 were frost-bit more severely than those in southern Iowa counties.

Some growers attempted to keep heat among their vines, or continually spray water on their vines, and some tried spraying liquid potassium, which acts like an antifreeze to protect the buds during the freezing period, White said.

Black didn't try any of those measures.

"There's not a whole lot you can do," Black said. "Most efforts are not effective.

"The most you can do is give the vulnerable buds a 3- to 5-degree protection."

Once the temperature slips to below 25 degrees, all bets are off.

"And it's not like flowers; you can't just throw a blanket over them," Black said. "And we're not the only ones; the same happened to orchards too."

He said the primary buds of Marquette varieties were out to 3 inches long on Sunday. They looked green and lush. Some of the secondary buds were out, as well.

White and Black both said frost damage varies by cultivar and location. Early budbreak varieties, including Marquette, and low-lying areas normally receive the worst damage.

Black said before the frost, "It would be easy for someone to get overly optimistic. You look at the (vines) and think here's a chance to do a really good job by the book all season long.

"And well, here we are ..."

Black fully expects to see a 75 percent yield loss on his grapes.

"But we'll be able to tell better in about two weeks," he said.

He hires three workers throughout the growing season to tend his vineyard. Are they out of work now?

Not at all, Black said. Half of all the work on vine husbandry is for the current crop and half is for the next year's crop.

"The crop is gone," he said, "but we still have to do everything as if it's otherwise, only there's no income coming in."

Crop insurance on grapes? Forget about it, Black said.

"There is insurance, but you can't afford it," he said. The reason is that, unlike corn and soybeans, the sheer numbers of growers are not sufficient to share the risk, so insurance rates are high on grapes.

According to White, there are only 300 Iowa vineyards, cultivating grapes on 1,200 acres statewide.

"This frost did not kill any vines," White said. "It only set us back. The industry will continue to grow."

Disappointed about the frost damage and the lost yields, Black said he tries not to get too down. "I'm not the only one this happened to."

Ajay Nair, an ISU Extension vegetable specialist, said he noticed damage to fruit blossoms at the Horticulture Research Station near Gilbert after the April 10 frost and temperatures were even colder April 11.

Paul Domoto, an ISU Extension fruit specialist, said the temperature dipped to 20 degrees at the horticultural station, a temperature that damages plants, but especially those near the ground, like strawberries. Strawberries are most vulnerable at bloom, however, only the earliest cultivars have reached this stage of development.

The problem with the fruit crops is that the early spring weather sped up blooming, which is a particularly sensitive stage for the plants. Domoto said although there has been damage it's too early to say how bad the freezes were until growers can assess the conditions in their areas, because site conditions and stage of bud and/or shoot development will have a significant influence on the extent of injury.

Nick Howell, superintendent of the Horticultural Research Station, doesn't expect much of an apple crop because of the freezes. He confirmed there was "significant damage" to the station's vineyard and strawberries. Apple trees typically are "in jeopardy" until the middle of May, he said.

Unfortunately, Howell said the expense of pest management in the apple orchard must be maintained even though there are few, if any, apples produced.

April 18
Hailstorms Annihilate California Fruit Crops

A series of freak April storms hammered the San Joaquin Valley last week, damaging vulnerable crops with a one-two-three punch of hail, lightning and tornados that caused millions of dollars of crop losses.

It will be several weeks before an accurate tabulation of losses can be made, but for some growers it amounted to 100 percent of this year's production. A number of crops suffered damage from the unrelenting power of hailstones measuring 1.5 inches in diameter or larger.

Nature's fury came in the form of "supercells"—large thunderstorms that moved slowly across the valley from Kings County, through parts of Tulare County, up to Merced County and all the way eastward to Mariposa County.

The most destructive storm brought torrents of hail across a six-to-eight mile-wide swath of farmland that extended some 30 miles, accompanied by thunderstorms and numerous lightning strikes.

The epicenter of the more significant of two supercells last Wednesday was in Tulare County near Traver. Grower Ed Needham, who was caught driving near Traver when the storm struck, described it as "the sound of someone hitting my truck with a hammer."

Needham said he was in his truck with two other farmers and had pulled over to watch a huge storm cell to the south when the other cell struck from the north.

"It started out small and was no big deal and then all of a sudden the side-view mirrors on my truck shattered and the road started getting covered with huge hailstones. I looked at the wind and saw that it was going south, so I took off and went to the south and got out of it," he said.

Steve Johnson, a storm chaser with Atmospheric Group International, tracked the storms closely and estimated that the damage to agriculture could reach $25 million or more just from the two supercells that hit last Wednesday afternoon.

"While other thunderstorms were moving at about 25 miles per hour, these two slugs were moving at about 7 or 8 miles an hour, so they just trudged along producing very large hail and a high quantity of lightning," he said. "I estimate the damage at anywhere from 80 percent to 100 percent in fields and orchards where the hail struck. The fruit and nut trees were stripped bare. The trees look like they are in midwinter and haven't even budded yet."

Johnson also reported that a third supercell formed over farmland west of Lemoore, producing a tornado, and another one popped up near Huron, causing considerable crop damage to Westside lettuce and tomato fields.

The following day, a supercell formed in Merced County near Dos Palos and moved northeast between Atwater and Merced, once again accompanied by huge hailstones.

"The hailstones were larger than those on the previous day. There was 1 3/4-inch hail that was recorded near Castle Air Force Base, causing a lot of crop damage as well as other damage before moving up into Mariposa County," Johnson said.

John Diepersloot, one of the owners of Kingsburg Orchards, which grows peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots, said the storms wiped out some orchards while leaving adjacent ones unscathed. He said several of his orchards were struck and that while the visible damage is obvious, it will be several days before any accurate assessment can be made.

"Where the hail hit, it is a complete, 100 percent loss. It was hitting in cells, so one area was a complete disaster and another area got missed," he said. "Some of the fields look like they got beat up pretty bad. Most of the apricots, cherries, pluots and plums got scratched up pretty bad or even knocked off the trees."

Diepersloot also noted damage to other crops, particularly grapes and newly transplanted processing tomatoes.

"The tomatoes on certain blocks were stripped down. The transplants had leaves ripped off. The grapes had everything from tender, new shoots to the bark itself torn off. A lot of guys are planting their corn, but it isn't up yet, so that is still in the ground," he said.

John Thiesen, general manager of Giumarra Brothers Fruit Co. of Reedley, said he is still trying to assess the losses, and that enough fruit to fill from 5 million to 12 million boxes may have been lost.

"That is a pretty big span, so no one really knows for sure. But we do know there is very significant damage," he said.

Thiesen said the magnitude of last week's hailstorms was stunning.

"One doesn't see this kind of devastation very often. I know for us here, we were fortunate to escape, but the emotions are such that we feel just awful for all our grower friends who were affected. It is heartbreaking," he said.

Michael Miya, who farms walnuts, pistachios and field crops such as wheat, corn and onions for seed north of Hanford, said this was the worst hailstorm he has ever witnessed.

"We inspected the damage to our walnuts and it chopped a lot of the young leaflets. It covered the ground in green where the hail went through. We are concerned with the nuts that are already set on the trees," he said. "Some of my neighbors with almonds say they lost about a third of their crop, some less and some more, depending on where they were located. One of my neighbors with cherries said he has probably lost 80 percent of his crop."

Johnson, a severe-weather specialist who provides private weather forecasting for farming operations, utility companies and irrigation districts in the San Joaquin Valley, said it has been at least 20 years since something this severe struck the region.

"I feel really bad for the farmers who have been annihilated, because they work very hard," he said.

April 18
Wisconsin Cherry Growers Expect 50 Percent Loss From Frost Damage

For many, Door County cherries are a Northeast Wisconsin tradition.

But for Kris Robertson, the owner of Robertson Orchards, they're so much more than just that.

"I've been doing this pretty much all my life. It's been here 130 years in the family, so I'm the fourth generation, so it's our livelihood," he says.

Robertson says he's been worrying about his trees, which he expects will produce about half the cherries they normally do this year.

That's because our unusually warm March caused the buds to start developing about a month early. And now with the chilly weather and overnight freezes, some are already damaged.

"Oh yeah, there's a lot of blossoms I open up. The pistils are black, which shows that they should be dead so they're not going to bloom," says Robertson.

UW-Madison agricultural researcher Matt Stasiak says this a common problem for Door County cherry growers this season.

He conducted a sample study a few weeks ago.

"We looked at, as we do every winter, a number of buds and we were seeing a fair amount of damage, the average was about 70- to 75 percent of flower buds were damaged," says Stasiak.

Stasiak says we won't see the full impact of this inclement weather until harvest in June.

In the meantime, cherry growers like Kris Robertson will be getting a lot less sleep.

"Oh, it keeps you up at night worrying, but there's nothing you can do. You just have to hope that the weather changes and you get some crop out of it," says Robertson.

April 16
Cold Strangles Southwest Michigan Grape Crop - Loss Called 'Devasta...

It’s not sour grapes, it’s fact: Southwestern Michigan grape growers are reeling from last week’s freezing temperatures that seem to have wiped out the majority of this season’s grape crop.

Although fruit growers in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties are still assessing the damage, it appears that virtually the entire grape crop grown for Welch's Foods in southwest Michigan has been lost.

Unusually high temperatures at an unusually early time made the plants bud early, making them susceptible to temperatures that dipped into the 20s.

John Jasper, area manager with the National Grape Cooperative Association, which owns Welch's, oversees 250 farmers and 12,000 acres. Of those farmers, he said, more than 90 percent of their primary buds died.

There’s a “glimmer of hope” for some secondary growth to push out a little later but as Jasper pointed out, for most farmers that’s not going to pay the bills or perhaps even make it economical to harvest the few grapes that are left.

“This is the worst situation we’ve had. ... This is devastating for southwest Michigan growers," he said.

According to Jasper, Welch's gets about 17 percent of its grapes from the area, perhaps prompting the company to change recipes for some of its products.

At Bixby Orchards in Berrien Springs, Patricia Bixby said the damage was similar to a 1997 hailstorm that also wiped out the farm’s grape crop. Cherries, she said, “don’t look too bad,’’ adding strawberries will be OK thanks to irrigation that insulated them against the 29-degree cold.

As for apples, she said, she and her husband Paul might lose 75 percent of their crop.

'You just go on,' she said.

The news was better at the Lemon Creek Winery where Jeff Lemon, a business partner and wine maker, said 140 acres of wine grapes offer enough varieties, and in such a wide range of development, that all won’t be lost.

“Some of the buds were still pretty tight. Those came through a little better,’’ he said.

The farm also features peaches, apples and cherries, with apples taking the biggest hit of the three, he said.

At Round Barn Winery in Baroda, wine maker Matt Moersch said he expects some of the younger varieties of grapes will have a 40 to 60 percent loss but older varieties may lose just 10 percent. Retails prices for the winery’s wines shouldn’t be affected this year but could go up in 2013, although not dramatically, he said.

At the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm in Eau Claire, Herb Teichman said the few grapes he grows for personal use are “in good shape’’ but some varieties of apple trees didn’t fare as well.

“With some (apples), there was very little (damage) but some others were quite serious,’’ he said.

Tart cherries also had some damage but Teichman said he’ll still have a crop to harvest.

“It’s a reduction but not a wipeout by any means,’’ he said.

Federal government relief could be forthcoming for some grape growers, most likely in the form of low-interest loans. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, is on record stating grape growers deserve relief.

The apple crop at Kercher's Sunrise Orchards in Goshen was also heavily damaged, the owner said Sunday.

April 14
Minnesota Apple Crop Crippled by Early Warmth Then Freeze

"It's essentially almost a total crop loss this year," said apple farmer Mike Perbix. Perbix owns Sweetland Orchard in Webster. He says he has lost more than 90 percent of his apple crop.

The reason is two-fold.

The warm weather we saw recently back caused many of his apple flowers to bloom. But then this week's freeze left them uncovered and unprotected. "You open it up and all you see is black right in there. And you can tell that's not going to produce anything viable," said Perbix when he opened up a flower bud.

That brings us to the consumer side of this story.

What does it mean for those who like to eat an apple a day? The short answer: it is still too early to tell.

"Our producers, they're really just beginning to understand what happened to them," said Gary Johnson with Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville.

There are two ways consumers may be affected if this wacky weather continues.

First, experts believe there is a good chance the local selection will not be as good. "So what they might find is more apples are coming from out state. You may see more apples come in from Washington for example," he said.

The second way this year's apple crop may bite consumers is at the checkout counter. Prices may go up. However, at Valley Natural Foods, their apple producer has not seen a problem with its crop yet. "They're going to provide apples to their whole sale partners at last year's prices," said Johnson.

David Bedford is a researcher and apple breeder with the University of Minnesota. He says he has never seen the apple crop start so early in his 32 years of breeding. "It's very unusual," he said. "But we're not in disaster mode yet."

He says most crops only need about 15 percent of the flowers to produce a healthy amount of apples. Typically, apple flowers come out of dormancy around May 15; this year it is at least a month early.

"We should know more in three weeks," he said of the extent of the apple crop damage.

Back at the orchard in Webster, Perbix knows where he stands. His apple money is all but gone for this year, thankful his wife is not in the family business. "The best insurance policy is that my wife works off the farm," he said.

April 13
Huge Crop Losses in Portugal Due to Frost and Drought

Recent early morning frosts and the ongoing drought, have led to an almost total loss of production in a number of fruit and vegetable farms across the Algarve.

The Association of Farmers of Faro and Surrounding Councils, which represents the majority of fruit and vegetable producers in the region, has said it is unhappy with government measures announced on Monday, adding that some of its members are on the verge of bankruptcy and despair.

The drought impact is confirmed by an official report dated March 13th, which states a 50% loss of greenhouse vegetables in the Algarve - especially in Faro and Olhão.

The report highlights the losses caused by frosts in the greenhouses to tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans and melon. in addition it says that open air crops such as broad beans, peas and potatoes have been affected. In relation to citrus fruit, the report says that the fall in production is "significant."

"I have lost 80 percent of my tomato plantation, which corresponds to a total loss because no one is going to water and pick the remaining 20 percent," said 44- year-old Paulo Cristina, who has six hectares of greenhouses on the outskirts of Faro.

With 120 tonnes of tomatoes lost, and with the selling price of tomatoes at 45 cents per kilogram, he calculates that he has lost €54,000, corresponding to half a year’s work.

Mr. Cristina awaits EU funds that have been promised by the Ministry of Agriculture, but says he is angry about the lack of available insurance to cover such events.

Similarly, the President of the Regional Agricultural Association, Ana Lopes, laments that insurance companies don’t provide policies adapted to each region, as "each area of the country is unique and has its own agriculture."

April 12
Frosts Damages Up to 90 Percent of Indiana Blueberry Crops

The overnight lows left some blueberry farms with plenty of damage during a season that had been expected to be the best in years. Some farms saw up to 90 percent damage to their crops.

Local farmers said the combination of warm winter months with the recent frosts was too much for certain varieties of blueberry bushes to handle.

“The real situation was a month ago when we had that beautiful weather, when everyone was just so happy,” Pick-N-Patch owner Sam Erwin said. “I’m going this is horrible weather. It brought all the fruit out early. “

The more advanced the blueberries are, the more that is at stake when a freeze warning goes into effect.

“Some of the earlier varieties were hurt a lot more,” Erwin said. “We have some that were almost 100 percent lost.”

April 12
Freezing Temps Causes Widespread Damage to Fruit Crops in North Car...

Cold temperatures Wednesday night caused widespread damage to fruit crops across Henderson County, according to Marvin Owings, county extension director.

"And we still have tonight," Owings said Thursday, referring to a freeze watch in effect through today's predawn hours. It will be a few days before growers can assess the extent of the damage to their crops, he added. "It is almost impossible to determine how bad it is the day after a freeze," Owings said.

Temperatures Wednesday night and Thursday morning fell to between 25 and 28 degrees in some areas. Temperatures 28 degrees and below can impair the fruits' growth cycle, Owings said.

Apple trees bloomed two weeks early as a result of the mild winter, and that left them vulnerable to cold temperatures.

"They are in full bloom, and that is the most critical stage of development," Owings said.

Farmers will check today to see whether Thursday night's temperatures caused more damage. The National Weather Service was forecasting a low around 32 degrees.

Henderson County grower Kenny Barnwell said Thursday that frost had ravaged his 10 acres of peach trees in Edneyville. "They were hurt pretty bad," Barnwell said. "I saw a lot of dead peaches."

His apple crop also was affected.

"A couple varieties (of apples) were severely damaged," Barnwell said.

Peach and strawberry growers in Upstate South Carolina reported that their crops had not been affected by the cool overnight temperatures, and some farms in Henderson County were spared.

"So far (the peach crops) are OK because the peaches' blooms have come and gone on most varieties," Danny McConnell said.

On Thursday, McConnell said it was too soon to tell whether the cold had impacted his apple trees in Dana, but he expected them to be fine.

It takes about 24 hours after a cold night to notice any damage to the apple blossoms, McConnell said.

Local strawberry growers said they were taking precautions to protect the soft fruits.

J.D. Obermiller had a long night Wednesday as temperatures dipped into the upper 20s at his strawberry farm in Horse Shoe.

He started the irrigation system at 2 a.m. to protect his crop, and by 10 a.m. Thursday, the last bit of ice melted off the strawberries.

"The berries look good," Obermiller said. "The blooms look bright and shiny."

McConnell kept his strawberries covered with plastic to protect them from freezing temperatures, but he planned to uncover them today because warmer weather is in the forecast.

High temperatures are expected to be in the 70s and low 80s this weekend, with lows between 40 and 55 degrees.

As he waited out the freeze threat on Thursday, Obermiller was hoping for minimal frost exposure, but he was prepared. "If need be," Obermiller said, "we'll sprinkle them again."

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Comment by lonne de vries on August 2, 2013 at 10:55pm

Exclusive: Frost damages nearly fifth of Brazil sugar cane crop: analyst

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Last week's frosts in southern Brazil damaged nearly a fifth of the unharvested cane crop in the principal growing region, an event likely to cut sugar exports from the world's largest producer, agriculture research company Datagro said Wednesday.

Severe early morning frosts on July 24 and 25 in three of Brazil's top sugar-cane states devastated large areas, Datagro President Plinio Nastari told Reuters. The cold blight comes at the peak the crushing season when more than half of Brazil's expected record 590-million-tonne crop remains unharvested.

Although Nastari was unable to say how much mill-output will drop or reduce a global sugar glut that has pushed prices to three-year lows, he said 65 million metric tons, or 18 percent of the cane standing uncut in fields was damaged by the frost.

Frost in tropical Brazil has long been a weather risk for global coffee markets. This frost, though, is the first in recent history that threatens to significantly cut sugar output and it's impact will likely extend into the next harvest too.


Comment by Howard on August 1, 2013 at 5:57am

Drought and Deluge Cycle Batters Crops in Southeast U.S. (July 31)

Last year, Georgia farmer Duke Lane’s orchards were parched.

But this year he has the opposite problem.

After a summer of nonstop downpours, Lane has lost a full one third of his yield, he said.

"We were picking in water for most of the summer,” Lane said. “And so that’s a problem for the peaches — not being picked in the proper time.”

And Lane isn't the only farmer suffering, either. Across the Southeast, the ground is too soaked to cut wheat, and cotton and peanut crops are drowning, growers say.

“This is the worst amount of water we’ve had since I’ve been farming,” Larry Redmond, owner of Shiloh Farms in Guyton, Ga., told NBC News.

Indeed in Georgia, rainfall totals are 34 percent higher than normal, and in North and South Carolina they are up 25 percent, and Alabama is 22 percent above normal precipitation. And the outlook doesn’t look any drier.

“The forecast for the Southeast is for a continued, above average wet pattern going in through the fall,” said Greg Forbes, a severe weather expert at The Weather Channel in Atlanta. Meanwhile, the West is in a drought.

The excessive rain in the Southeast means billions of dollars of damaged crops, according to some estimates. Add a drought in the West, and that could mean higher prices at the grocery store for staples such melons, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Heavy rainfall across the southeast United States caused crop output to slow across the region. Ricky Volpe, a research economist for the USDA, warns consumers may see a spike in prices for some fruits and vegetables.

Although the farms of the Southeast have been hardest hit by the unusually wet summer, Vermont's corn crops are also soaked, and in upstate New York, saturated fields have crippled plows and other workhorses of the farm, endangering the pea crop as well as tomatoes and even hearty pumpkins.

“I’ve never sold green pumpkins at Halloween,” said Jack Moore, owner of Gro-Moore Farms in Henrietta, N.Y. “But you never know, might be this year."

The pumpkin-selling season is still months away, but for farmers are hoping last year’s severe drought and this year’s heavy rains are behind them, and that Mother Nature will be kinder to them next year.

“It’s gonna hurt cause you know money that’s made here rolls over to the community about seven times," said Georgia farmer Lane. "That money’s going to be missed.”



Comment by Howard on July 27, 2013 at 7:50pm

Hail Deals 'Catastrophic' Damage to French Vineyards (July 23)

A summer hailstorm has caused "catastrophic" damage to prestigious vineyards in France's Burgundy region, with up to 70 percent of crops destroyed with up to 90 percent damaged on some estates, local wine producers said Wednesday.

The storms on Tuesday, which saw strong hail accompanied by high winds, caused widespread damage in some of France's best-known wine areas, including Cote de Beaune, Volnay, Pommard and Savigny-les-Beaune.

"It's catastrophic, some operations will not recover. There are losses of at least 30-40 percent, and that could rise to 70 percent," said Thiebault Huber, the head of the Volnay wine producers' union.

He said such heavy hail could do damage to vineyards that can last up to three years.

Strong winds, rain and hail around 4 p.m. local time ripped leaves from vines and caused grapes to burst, Cecile Mathiaud, spokeswoman for the Burgundy Wine Board, said Wednesday. Some vineyards were hit by flooding.

The storm was the latest in a string of difficulties to hit Burgundy wine producers, including flooding in the spring and hailstorms last year that destroyed 60 percent of crops on some estates.

Two people were also hospitalised after Tuesday's storm.




Comment by lonne de vries on July 18, 2013 at 12:26pm

Exclusive - China may become top wheat importer after crops ruined

(Reuters) - China's wheat crop has suffered more severely than previously thought from frost in the growing period and rain during the harvest, and import demand to compensate for the damage could see the country eclipse Egypt as the world's top buyer.

Interviews with farmers and new estimates from analysts have revealed weather damage in China's northern grain belt could have made as much as 20 million tonnes of the wheat crop, or 16 percent, unfit for human consumption. That would be double the volume previously reported as damaged.

Higher imports, which have already been revised upwards on initial damage reports, will further shrink global supplies and support prices, fuelling new worries over global food security.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday raised its forecast for China's imports in 2013/14 to 8.5 million tonnes from 3.2 million tonnes in the previous year, prompting U.S. wheat prices to rally to more than two-week highs.

But overseas traders and analysts estimate imports could rise above 10 million tonnes, surpassing the 9 million tonnes the world's biggest buyer Egypt is expected to buy.

Competition from China for more imports would force other buyers, such as Egypt, to pay more for grains, in a new blow for the Middle East country after two years of political turmoil has left it struggling for funds to pay for food imports.

In China's top wheat producing province of Henan, farmers visited by Reuters said kernels shrunk because of the frost early this year followed by more damage with grains germinating due to the rainstorms in May. Henan is in the northern grain belt, which accounts for about half of China's output.

"The kernels this year are half their normal sizes," said Feng Ling, a 55-year old farmer in Xuchang, central Henan, where some growers have seen their production slashed by 40 percent from year ago. "The harvest was terrible."

The crop damage across large swathes of China's farmland is adding to concerns over global food supplies after unfavourable weather in top wheat exporters the United States and the Black Sea region resulted in quality downgrades.


Comment by Howard on June 1, 2013 at 7:05pm

Texas Suffers Heavy Grape Crop Damage Statewide (May 31)

Steve Newsom described 2013 for grapes on the High Plains in a single word: “Devastating.”

In the 25 years he’s farmed here, he’s never seen multiple freezes that happened well into spring.

The president of the High Plains Wine-growers Association said the freeze hit the grapes hard not just because of how cold it got, but for how long it stayed cold.

“It was just horrible,” he said. “It was just one freeze after another, every time the grapes would try and recover they would just get smashed.”

The cold bowled them over

In some cases, vineyards were so badly damaged by the cold weather, he said, they won’t produce a crop next year. Though fellow High Plains grape farmer Bobby Cox estimated damage to such an extent to be rare.

Newsom said grape plants have different cycles of budding. The first cycle is the best quality and results in the strongest fruit. Much of the first cycle this year was killed by the first freezes, he explained.

After all the freezes, Newsom lost about 75 percent of his crop, and the remainder is expected to only produce 25 percent of its normal yield.

One of the farmers who experienced heavy crop damage this year was Neal Newsom — no relation to Steve Newsom.

“We’re probably out 95 percent,” Neal Newsom said. “I think I’ll make 5 percent of a normal crop.”

He estimated the crop would experience an 80 percent loss across the High Plains. In 28 years of farming grapes in the region, this is the worst he has seen.

The hard freeze in May was especially damaging, he said.

“That freeze was deep enough it caused wood damage,” he said.

And while it’s still early, he estimated 75 percent of his vines need to be retrained.

“Training is where you make the plant grow where you want it to,” he said.

Neal Newsom explained parts of the vines killed by the cold need to be removed. The retraining process itself needs to be done by hand.

The cold wasn’t the only threat to the vines, said Emily Simpson, the winery operations manager at McPherson Cellars. The periods of heat between the frosts actually promoted the fruits’ growth, because Simpson said grapes like warm weather. The promoted growth made the losses from the freezes worse, she said.



Comment by Howard on May 28, 2013 at 6:07am

Late Freeze Ices Southwestern Ontario Crops (May 27)

Mother Nature's icy grip on area farm crops and backyard plants and gardens over the weekend has resulted in a huge financial loss across Chatham-Kent and southwestern Ontario.

This marks the second consecutive year that killing frost has had a major negative impact on the municipality's multimillion dollar agricultural industry. Last spring's frost was much more severe especially to tree fruit crops  although it came much earlier in the growing season.

"It is still too early to determine the full impact from the cold temperatures.

Potatoes in the Grand Bend and Delhi area were damaged.

"Tomatoes in Chatham-Kent, Ridgetown and Leamington experienced varying amounts of damage,'' she said. "In some cases farmers received up to 80% damage and some fields will have to be replanted.''

Early transplanted celery, peppers and onions in Chatham-Kent were damaged, much of it to the point it will not recover.

"Apple and pear trees are past bloom and are not susceptible to cold temperatures,'' she said. "However, in the orchards that experienced the colder temperatures for longer periods of time there could be an impact on the shape and skin texture of the fruit.''

Jean Laprise, of Laprise Farms near Pain Court, said Monday the late season cold snap cost him at least 40 acres of recently planted tomato transplants.

He said replanting is in the cards not only for himself but for several area farmers whose crops were damaged by temperatures that dipped as low as ñ 3C.

"Despite the cold temperatures, damage was spotty across the area,'' he said.

Laprise said farmers in the Simcoe-Delhi area also reported frost damage to both tomatoes and peppers.

There were reports of frost damage in tobacco fields in the Bothwell area as well as to numerous backyard flower and vegetable gardens in Chatham and elsewhere in the municipality.

John Jaques, Chatham-Kent's largest grower of asparagus, estimates he lost approximately 20,000 pounds of his crop on the weekend.

"In other words, I lost about $40,000 on my 70-acre crop,'' said Jaques. "It's money out the window. It can never be recovered.''

Jaques recalled that last spring his crop was affected by frost multiple times and damage was extensive.

"Hopefully, we don't see any more frost this spring,'' he said.

McGeachy said, "it's never fun to have frost in May.''

Cedar Springs area fruit farmer Don Thompson is hoping his tree fruit crops weren't severely damaged by the cold temperatures.

He said the thermometer dipped to ñ 3 Friday night, ñ 2 Saturday night and ñ1 Sunday night.

"I had an acre of ornamental Indian corn that got badly burned by the frost,'' he said.

Thompson said because of last year's severe killing frost in orchards across southwestern Ontario, the level of concern on the part of growers was much higher this time around.

"I hear it was a little colder in the Leamington area and some fruit growers there did experience some frost damage,'' he said.

Sarah Graham of Sarah's Farm Markets in Chatham said it took a lot of time and effort but she was able to save her hanging baskets, shrubs, patio plants and vegetable plants by carting them inside each night throughout the weekend.

"But I'm hearing from my suppliers that a lot of damage was caused throughout the area by the cold snap,'' she said. "A number of my customers are reporting damage to their flowers and vegetables.''

Graham said she saw the cold snap coming and took pro-active measures to protect her inventory.

"But it took a great deal of time and effort on the part of staff,'' she said.

Graham said her father, Pete Koning, used plastic row covers to try and protect delicate strawberry plants on a farm on the outskirts of Chatham.

"Had we not taken action the fruit would have been left with marks caused by the frost making it worthless for the farm market,'' she said.

Koning said he drove around Chatham-Kent Monday morning and was amazed at the extent of frost damage.

Koning said it's getting late in the season to replant and added that rain is badly needed in the area.

He said frost warnings that were posted came out too late for many farmers and backyard gardeners to take action.

"It almost seems like Chatham-Kent is experiencing desert-like weather conditions this spring,'' he said. "It's hot during the day but cools way down at night.''

Koning said three nights of freezing temperatures at the end of May is highly unusual for Chatham-Kent.

"But it could have been a lot worse for us had we not taken action to try and protect our crops,'' he said.

Dan O'Neill of Chatham said there was definitely damage to his tomato crop but the extent depended on the growth rate of the plant.

"We are still assessing the degree of damage but doubt we will have to replant,'' he said.

O'Neill said the more established tomato plants sustained less frost damage.



Comment by Howard on May 20, 2013 at 8:40pm

Oregon Fruit Orchard Suffers Major Crop Loss (May 13)

The fruit trees at Eagle Creek Orchard near Richland “woke up” in March when the temperature topped 80 degrees, coming out of dormancy earlier than usual.

Then, in mid-April the orchard alarm went off, alerting owners Robert and Linda Cordtz that the temperature had hit the danger zone of 28 degrees.

The night got colder, and despite seven hours of their frost protection measures they lost 90 percent of the apricots, peaches and plums.

“The alarm went off at 12:30 a.m. and the temperature plummeted,” Linda said.“We knew it was bad."

They are looking at a loss of more than 70 percent of their total yearly harvest.

 Linda and Robert bought Eagle Creek Orchard in 2005, and began the steps to become organic. It was certified by Oregon Tilth in 2008.

Linda said that in the orchard’s 18-year history, this is the first time the peaches have been hit by a killing frost.



Comment by Howard on May 20, 2013 at 8:33pm

Northwest U.S. Fruit Crop Damaged By Late Frost (May 16)

Frosty nights in March and April have put the hurt on the area’s cherry crops.

The crop from the Milton-Freewater area faces a minimum reduction of 30 percent, and possibly up to 60 percent, due to freezes that struck last month, said Clive Kaiser, Oregon State University extension agent.

The freezing temperatures came on two nights in March and two nights in April and hit the crops when they were at their most vulnerable, he said.

“It took place during the flowering and one hit during the fruit set, which is the sensitive times,” Kaiser said.

Losses were not uniform with some cultivators being hit worse than others.

Justin Brunson, general manager for Blue Mountain Growers, agreed with Kaiser’s evaluation that damage was hit and miss, with some farmers experiencing a total crop loss while others escaped with little or no damage.

Brunson said he had just attended a meeting of the Northwest Cherry Growers Association Wednesday and from what he had heard, the frost damage was widespread in Washington state as well.

Along with cherries, prune, plum, apricot and apple crops are also going to be affected, although how badly has not been determined, Kaiser said.

Some of the more cold-sensitive apple varieties, such as the Pink Lady, have been affected by the low temperatures while others escaped harm.

Low temperatures recorded by weather stations spotted throughout fruit orchards in the Milton-Freewater area showed lows of 27.6 degrees on March 8, 27.8 degrees on March 19 and 26.2 degrees on March 24, Kaiser said. Freezing nights also occurred in April when temperatures dropped to 31 degrees on April 16 and 30.9 degrees on April 17.



Comment by Tracie Crespo on May 16, 2013 at 12:44pm


Food supply under assault as climate heats up

2 hours ago

A ear of corn from last year's harvest lies in a wet field on a farm, Tuesday, May 7, 2013, near Carlisle, Iowa. The USDA's weekly crop progress repor...
AP file
Corn from last year's harvest lies in a wet field on a farm near Carlisle, Iowa last Tuesday. The USDA's weekly crop progress report showed that just 12 percent of the nation's cornfields have been sown.

American eaters, let’s talk about the birds and the bees: The U.S. food supply – from chickens injected with arsenic to dying bee colonies – is under unprecedented siege from a blitz of man-made hazards, meaning some of your favorite treats someday may vanish from your plate, experts say.

Warmer and moister air ringing much of the planet – punctuated by droughts in other locales – is threatening the prime ingredients in many daily meals, including the maple syrup on your morning pancakes and the salmon on your evening grill as well as the wine in your glass and the chocolate on your dessert tray, according to four recent studies.

At the same time, an unappetizing bacterial outbreak in Florida citrus droves, largely affecting orange trees, is causing fruit to turn bitter. Elsewhere, unappealing fungi strains are curtailing certain coffee yields and devastating some banana plantations, researchers report.

Now, mix in the atmospheric misfortunes sapping two mainstays of American farming — corn and cows. Heavier than normal spring rains have put the corn crop far behind schedule: Only 28 percent of corn fields have been planted this year compared with 85 percent at this time in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, drought in the Southeastern plains and a poor hay yield have culled the U.S. cattle and calf herd to its lowest level since 1952, propelling the wholesale price of a USDA cut of choice beef to a new high on May 3 — $201.68 per 100 pounds, eclipsing the old mark of $201.18 from October 2003, the USDA reports.

“We are in the midst of dramatic assault on the security of the food supply,” said Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The group promotes ecological research into the nexus of diet, food production, environment and human health.

The primary culprit of all this menu mayhem is climate change, which is choking off certain crops already weakened by both genetic tinkering and chemically based farming, some experts contend.

Agricultural history is, of course, laced with tales of crop-munching bug swarms and dirt-baking droughts, leading to famous regional famines. Paleontologists have even argued that the hanging gardens of ancient Babylon dried up because people messed with that micro-climate by slashing too many trees, over-expanding farm fields and exhausting the water supply, Lawrence said.

“So there are precedents but they’ve all been local and people just abandoned those areas and moved on,” he added. “What’s very sobering about the situation today: This is global and there isn’t any other place to go on this spaceship Earth. We need to regard all of these (examples) as a very powerful motivator to try to work on the carbon emissions, to start pushing that parts per million of carbon dioxide back down.”

Image: Spawning Salmon
Robin Loznak
The world’s collective appetite also is growing as populations rise, leading large, commercial growers and exporters to ship more food internationally – and allowing certain plant-consuming bacteria, fungi and viruses to “hitchhike half way around the world in a day,” public health researcher says.

Last week, the ratio of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere soared to the highest daily average ever recorded by an air monitor station at Mauna Loa in Hawaii — nearly 400 parts per million (ppm), said John Ewald, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, who called it "an extremely important milestone." When that gauge was installed in 1958, the observatory measured a CO2 concentration of 313 ppm. The number means there were 313 molecules of carbon dioxide in the air for every 1 million molecules of air.

“That warmer and more moist air (caused by the CO2) creates the conditions that certain pathogens thrive on,” Lawrence said. “That’s the dilemma with things like the coffee fungi and some of the problems with citrus.”

The world’s collective appetite also is growing as populations rise, leading large, commercial growers and exporters to ship more food internationally – and allowing certain plant-consuming bacteria, fungi and viruses to “hitchhike half way around the world in a day,” Lawrence added.

Moreover, to help meet the need to feed those extra mouths, industrial agriculture has increasingly turned to “mono-culture” farming to boost harvests. That means using science to alter plants and sewing huge fields – fencepost to fencepost – with single crops.

“For instance, corn plants in the American Midwest are grown closer together and taller than they have been in the past because we’re genetically engineering them to do that,” said Lee Hannah, senior fellow at Conservation International, a global nonprofit that advocates for sustainable policies. “That produces a lot more food. But it also makes that corn more vulnerable to disease, which, if it gets into that mono-culture system, can sweep through it much as a disease will go through a city a lot faster than it does a rural countryside.

“We’re in a situation where the food supply is more vulnerable than it has ever been,” added Hannah, also an adjunct faculty member at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Hannah authored a recent study that predicted climate change may shrink California’s wine-growing areas by as much as 70 percent by 2050.

But less wine in our homes could – some conservationists hope – grab the attention of American consumers who can’t otherwise get their heads around shrinking polar ice caps. 

“Maybe seeing this impact all this has on our ability to raise the food we depend on will get us to the tipping point of real policy change and real action,” Lawrence said. “I hope so.”

Comment by lonne de vries on May 11, 2013 at 12:21pm

Farmer claims 'no potatoes left in NI'

A Limavady potato farmer has blamed recent radical changes in the weather for sending the price of a spud soaring and has claimed there are "no potatoes left in Northern Ireland".

The price of the humble spud has soared recently with a tonne of produce costing £440 - almost three times more than the price of the same weight a year ago.

It means fish 'n' chip lovers could face a bit of a shock at their local chippie.

Limavady farmer, James Wray, said the changing weather in recent weeks had forced the price up.

He said: "This year has been a terrible growing season with loads of crops lost and loads of crops not harvested and any crops that have been harvested have produced low yields.

"There just isn't any potatoes left in the country, there are no farmers with potatoes left, so whatever potatoes are about, are very, very expensive.

"If you go to any of the major supermarkets most of their potatoes are coming in from Europe just to bridge the gap."

James said fluctuating temperatures over recent weeks were to blame for low yields of crops.

He added: "How many times have you cut the grass? There's no growth at all.

"Things are so cold, wet and damp, so the potatoes that are in the ground don't want to grow.

"The other week the temperature hit 20C while the other day it was 7C, so nothing wants to grow.

"That means a shortage in supply and I can't see prices falling back to what they were in the near future."

James went on: "If the price stays up we can work with lower yields but at the minute I would like all my crops in the ground and would like them all to be through the ground.

"With the longest day in the year at end of June coming up, you would want a full canopy, so you have loads of growth, loads of volume, loads of bulk and high yields.

"But, when they are not even in the ground yet, we are not looking at big, big crops for this year."




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