France is under a cold spell, with the weather falling to an unexpected -4C across large parts of the country, record lows for April. And that’s causing huge problems for farmers and wine producers, who fear that crops will be damaged. From Chablis to Champagne, as reported by The Local, France has been covered with images of what looks like fields that have been set alight.
These are crop candles, placed in fields by the famers to ward off the frost.
As reported by actu.fr, throughout Monday night to Tuesday morning, the temperature dropped but it wasn’t as alarming as the weather conditions on Tuesday night to Wednesday morning. Winemaker Claire Lelais in the south of Sarthe, north west France said that the situation deteriorated over a period of several hours, as the increased humidity began to freeze the vines, and many farmers were forced to light as many candles as they could afford to save crops.
However, a big issue for the vineyards is the cost. As reported by The Connexion, these controlled fires can increase temperatures by 3C but candles can cost up to €10 ($12) each, so the cost can be as much as €2,000-€3,000 ($2,400 to $3,600) per hectare.
Some farmers are turning to other methods. One Burgundy farmer, as reported by France 24, has been spraying his orchards with water. He explained, “it’s simple. The water produces this gel the moment it freezes. And this frees up calories, which are digested inside the ice and the apple blossom. It’s less cold inside the ice, like an Eskimo inside an igloo, than outside.” Others have hired helicopters to fly at low altitude over their crops to keep the air circulating to try to prevent frost.
Thursday night is expected to bring more biting temperatures and likely to be the worst night for more southerly vineyards.