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Spring frost losses and climate change – Not a contradiction in terms

Munich Re, the international insurance company, has an interesting story on the combination of warmer winters and later frosts that are affecting crops in Europe. It begins, ” In the second and third ten-day periods of April, and in some cases even over the first ten days of May 2017, western, central, southern and eastern Europe experienced a series of frosty nights, with catastrophic consequences in many places for fruit growing and viticulture. The worst-affected countries were Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. Losses were so high because vegetation was already well advanced following an exceptionally warm spell of weather in March that continued into the early part of April.” Does that sound familiar? It is very similar to what we have seen in the Southeast in recent years.

The article discusses how blooming dates and last frost dates are both moving earlier in the spring due to the warming climate, but they are not changing at the same rate, leading to increased risk for producers who grow things like blueberries and peaches. This is not just happening in Europe but is happening across the world, so our fruit farmers will have to deal with this in coming decades. They can do some frost protection with sprinklers, covers, or wind machines, but Munich Re also believes that crop insurance will be needed to protect producers against the higher risks as . You can read the article at https://www.munichre.com/topics-online/en/climate-change-and-natural-disasters/climate-change/spring-frost-losses-climate-change-2018.html.

Blueberries in Appling County, Ga., March 16 coated in a layer of ice from irrigation water in an effort to protect them from a severe freeze which appears to have devastated Georgia’s 2017 blueberry crop. Source: Bob Kemerait.