USA - October freeze burns tobacco farmers in Surry County

22.10.2015 760 views
Mother nature seemed to have conspired against Surry County tobacco farmers this year, with freezing temperatures Saturday and Sunday landing the final blow. Phillip Cave, a fifth generation farmer who with his son, farms about 50 acres of tobacco in Elkin and Dobson, said the trouble leading up to an $80,000 loss started months ago. “The whole story of this crop is extreme drought in May, June and July put the crop behind,” he said. Then came October’s rain. From Sept. 25 to Oct. 4 the crop couldn’t be harvested. “We had to sit in the house and watch the rain,” Cave said. “I could have gotten it done in three days.” When the rain finally did stop, Cave got busy with the harvest. “I heard the ice was coming,” Phillip Cave said. “I worked my hind end off.” Laborers worked 17 hours that Saturday. Cave didn’t get home until 2:30 a.m. “We don’t ever work crops on Sunday but we did this year,” he said. Cave did get about 11,000 pounds of tobacco harvested before the temperature dropped. The rest? “It’s ruined,” Cave said. “Tobacco can handle a frost. It can’t handle a freeze.” The frostbitten leaves won’t cure correctly. “They won’t take the heat, it won’t yellow,” he said. The stems bend instead of breaking, which means they can’t be separated from the leaves during processing. “You can’t hide it,” he said. Insurance issues Cave wasn’t the only farmer to be affected by the cold snap. “We have had several losses reported,” said John Petree, owner of Foothills Insurance, a crop insurance agency based in Rural Hall. But Cave’s extra work harvesting the crop may hurt him. Although about six miles separate the tracts of land where Cave had harvested the tobacco before the frost and where it remained exposed in the field, they are listed under the farm serial number with the Farm Service Agency and so are considered one farm for insurance purposes. Cave couldn’t claim a loss. “I missed the whole state fair and still lost 70-80 thousand dollars,” Cave said, noting that he missed out on watching his kids show cattle — and his Hereford bull be named grand champion. Low demand, low prices When the farmer got his harvest to market, the tobacco company gave Cave a lower grade than he thought it was worth, offering him $1.40 a pound instead of about $2 per pound. “That’s not a fair price,” he said, blaming markets so flooded by low demand and an increase in foreign imports with making tobacco companies unable to pay a fair price for their contracts. And so, the buyers are assigning lower grades to higher quality tobacco as a way to drive the already low price down further. Demand was so low at the beginning of the season that Cave’s son, Preston, could not even get a contract to grow conventional tobacco. Preston Cave, a December 2014 graduate of N.C. State University, chose to grow organic tobacco for his first crop. Along with the higher demand and higher price for organic tobacco comes more work — and greater risk. With his crop also uninsured, “I lost about $8,000 Monday morning,” said Cave, who is getting married on Nov. 7. The year hadn’t been a good one for the Caves’ farming operation as a whole. Phillip Cave said his laying hens were picked up three weeks early, and that the drought hurt other crops such as corn and soybeans. “I don’t even want to walk into the soybean field,” he said. Preston said Brazil opening its markets to exports has driven cattle prices down as well as tobacco. But with the debt ratio lower on tobacco, that loss hurt the most. “Tobacco pays the bills,” Phillip Cave said. “It didn’t this year.” Admittedly still in shock from the frost loss, Phillip Cave said, “I’m thinking about selling. I didn’t tell him that yet,” pointing to his son. Preston Cave said he didn’t know if he would continue to farm the crop. “Do you stay here and take losses for four or five years or try to move on to something else?” The father and son had planned long term to use tobacco profits to expand their cattle operation. “That’s what we both love to do,” he said. Phillip Cave said, “We both love growing tobacco too. But not this year.” “There’s no guarantees in farming,” Preston Cave said. “We’re just gamblers. Gambling to feed the world.” Source -

Spain - 30% of La Palma's banana production has already been lost due to the advance of the lava

More than three weeks after the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted, the lava that continues to flow from its interior continues to devastate everything in its path, destroying houses, infrastructure, and banana plantations. The production of Platanos de Canarias is the economic engine of the island, accounting for 50% of its GDP and 30% of the jobs on the island.


Europe - Around 66,000 ha damaged - 23 million euros in damages

While Vereinigte Hagelversicherung VVaG reported 30,000 hectares damaged just a few days ago, this figure has more than doubled within a few days. A good 66,000 hectares were registered for regulation from June 18 to 25. This is due to so-called supercells, which came from France through Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to Austria and the Czech Republic, causing hailstorms over a length of several hundred kilometers. Local heavy rainfall with enormous amounts of rain from so-called "water bombs" and hailstones the size of tennis balls caused damage to almost all crops, often with total losses. On June 22 and again on June 24, the damage area stretched from Lake Starnberg via Munich to Passau. In Baden-Württemberg, the Neckar-Alb region was hardest hit on June 21 and, just two days later, the strip from Freiburg via Reutlingen to Esslingen. A locally intense area of damage extended along the North Sea coast in the Groningen-Norden-Aurich triangle on both the Dutch and German sides of the border. In addition, abroad, the polder areas on the IJsselmeer and the Baltic region were particularly affected. After the first surveys, Vereinigte Hagel now expects damage of about 20 to 23 million euros, a doubling compared to the beginning of last week. Supercells and what they are about - currently no end in sight The background to the now considerably higher damage figures are so-called supercells, which have a much higher damage potential than ordinary thunderstorms due to their rotation and longevity. "Their most important feature is the so-called "mesocyclone," a powerful rotating updraft. It creates a negative pressure on the ground so that, like a vacuum cleaner, warm and energetic air can be constantly sucked in at the ground and reach the upper edge of the troposphere (above 10 km altitude). There the warm air is sucked in and there is also the danger of possible tornadoes. Subsequently, in the area of the sinking cold air, it is not uncommon for extreme downbursts to reach the hurricane range. Over time, supercells develop a momentum of their own that prevents the sinking cold air (as compensation for the rising warm air) from entering the warm air area. Thus, the mesocyclone is fed with warm air for several hours. Due to the longevity and massive power of the rotating updraft, hailstones can be flung into the air several times, growing into large hailstones. From Monday through Thursday, conditions in southern Germany were ideal for these rotating monsters. A warm and humid air mass was stored in the lower atmosphere, so to speak the fuel for the engine of the rotating mesocyclones. In addition, the wind near the ground came from an easterly to northeasterly direction (which favored suction), veered nearly 180° to the southwest up to an altitude of about 5 kilometers, and increased significantly. In short, there was sufficient directional and velocity shear. This is a basic requirement for the formation of rotation in the updraft region and helps to prevent the sinking cold air from reaching the front of the thunderstorm cell." And it's set to continue. The DWD forecasts heavy thunderstorms in the south and southwest of Germany on Monday evening, as well as on Tuesday. Experts prepared for this, because in June or July such weather phenomena are not uncommon, as Vereinigte Hagel knows from almost 200 years of experience. Source -


China - Farms suffered from hailstorms

Hailstorms suddenly arrived in east China on 4 April to 5 April. Production areas in Pingdu, Laizhou, and Laiyang in Shandong suffered heavy damage. The hailstones damaged cherry trees, pear trees, peach trees, and apple trees. The cherry and peach trees in particular are in the middle of the flowering season, while apples are ripening on the trees. Some of the flowers have already begun to open in some of the warmer production areas. The impact of these hailstorms was disastrous for the upcoming production volume of cherries and peaches. The overall production volume will be greatly reduced and some farmers may have lost their entire harvest. Source -


Ukraine - Losses in stone fruit and berry crops due to low temperatures

The freezing temperatures recently recorded in Ukraine could lead to the loss of up to 80% of the stone fruit production and up to 50% of the berry crops, said Kateryna Zvereva, Director for Development of the Ukrainian Fruit and Vegetable Association (UPAA). “Apricot and other stone fruit crops (peaches, sweet cherries and even some plum varieties) bloomed earlier than usual due to the high temperatures in March. However, night frosts that were fatal to stone fruit crops were recorded in late March, and the vast majority of growers in Ukraine don't yet have modern frost protection systems. Moreover, the cold weather during the flowering prevented the bees from pollinating the gardens," she said in a statement to Interfax-Ukraine. As for berries, the UPOA this week received several messages from Ukrainian blueberry producers, concerned about the serious damage caused by the lower air temperatures at the end of last month. “Due to the abnormally warm winter and significantly high temperatures in March, blueberries in many regions of Ukraine had almost started to bloom; however, frosts struck earlier this week. The situation worsened because frosts returned again after a short warm period,” said Zvereva. According to UPAA research, Chandler blueberries were the most affected, with potential crop losses estimated at more than 50% in some regions. The Duke variety, which is one of the most popular among domestic growers, was also significantly affected. “Losses in stone fruits could reach 80% of the potential production; in berries, perhaps 50%,” said the director for development of the UPOA. Source -


Italy - Heavy storms hit south-east Sicily

"There are no roads and we do not even know how to reach our land. Both the structures and crops have been damaged. The water is not draining, so things are bad," explains Enzo Denaro, from a production and commercialization company in Ispica, following the storms on 25th and 26th October. "The strength of the water even dragged away the electricity pylons. Rivers and canals have not been cleaned, so the water could not flow properly - bills, including that from the land reclamation consortium, do come in punctually though. The neglected land is indeed a problem, though we must say the weather event that hit the area between Ispica (RG) and Rosolini (SR) was the strongest we have had in years." "I lost 30% of my production and believe at least a third of the local crops was damaged - carrots and artichokes in particular. The hail also damaged greenhouses and polytunnels." It will only be possible to assess the real damage over the next few days and weeks. A huge sinkhole occurred in Ispica and the roads and houses must be secured. What is more, the primary and secondary road network must also be reinstated and of course, logistics will be heavily affected. Above: Enzo Denaro in a zucchini polytunnel, archive photo. Plants did not have the time to produce as they should. "We are expecting water to drain so we can salvage what we can and carry out new transplants where possible so as to mitigate our losses. I hope none of the authorities come to visit, as they should take care of the territory throughout the year, not just show their faces for political advantage." Source -


Floods and storms in Spain and southern France affected some crops

This week’s weather around the Mediterranean caused a lot of damage in the south of France; the French government has declared a state of natural disaster. In Béziers, 6 gallons per square feet fell in 24h. Other municipalities in France and in Spain were also severely affected. The episode inevitably has consequences for the fruit and vegetable sector. “We have not drawn up a report yet, but several crops have been affected in France and in Spain,” reports Charles Farran de Ritex, wholesaler based in Perpignan. “In France, it is the season of autumn and winter vegetables like artichokes and lettuce. For those products, water is not necessarily a bad thing, and we hope that there won’t be too much damage. The apple and pear orchards are probably also affected. Other products like the tomatoes are grown in greenhouses so they will not be directly impacted. However, several greenhouses have been destroyed by the storm in the region of Nîmes and Avignon.” In Spain, the Mediterranean episode also had some impact. “Grapes were severely affected by the water,” explains Charles, who imports a lot of his products from Spain. Nearly 108,000 square feet of greenhouses blown away As he was about to pick his lettuce, Eric Vidal saw a small tornado, on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, blow away 108,000 square feet of his farm located at the heart of the Jardins Saint Jacques. He reported to the newspaper L’Indépendant that “everything is ruined, both the facilities and all the lettuce of course, which is mostly produced for fast food restaurants. We were supposed to harvest in 10 days, it’s a dry loss. Luckily, I have insurance.” The cause of the damage is a devastating blast limited to one corridor. Other more minor damage has been reported in the same area. “When I arrived at the greenhouses, I understood right away that something had happened. The greenhouses in the back were completely crushed. It was like a bull ran through, destroying everything. The surprising thing is that the other facilities, right next to them, were not affected at all,” explains Eric. The farm had already suffered from a similar situation in January 2009 with storm Klaus. “After the expert’s report, we will have to disassemble, clean and rebuild everything. We won’t get any lettuce until next summer.” The farm is likely to lay off part of its staff temporarily. Source -


USA - Thieves steal 7,000 pounds of apples from Spicer Orchards

Thousands of apples vanished from Spicer Orchard. It's a bizarre crime that's left the owners wondering who did it. Trees at a Fenton Township orchard should be filled with apples waiting to be harvested. Instead, they are bare. Sometime between late Sunday night and Wednesday morning, thieves stripped hundreds of trees of their bounty, leaving only a handful of fruit high up on the branches. "Basically, I was pretty upset about it, because it takes a whole year to grow apples," said Spicer Orchard Harvest Manager Matt Spicer. "And losing something like that, that was our up and coming varieties. Evercrisp is one of our new ones out and was kind of excited to share that with people." The crooks not only picked ripe apples, they took ones not ready for harvest and even ones on the ground. Spicer estimates about 7,000 pounds of fruit -- about 22,000 apples -- were loaded onto trucks and carted off. Nearby neighbors didn't hear a thing. "I don't look out my window this way and they didn't come down the driveway, so I wouldn't have heard anything," said next door neighbor Mike Conway. "It's behind the barn. I'm sure they used the barn for cover." While insurance can cover crop losses due to weather, it won't cover theft and the estimated $14,000 loss. However, this loss will have a ripple effect across the family run business. "Whomever took those apples, six families count on the income from this farm. And losing any of it, always, it will hurt somebody," Spicer said. Plans are to increase security measures to help prevent another incident in the future. "We already kind of planned on fencing it off, which would give us gates to close and things like that to hopefully help us out, and more cameras obviously," Spicer said. Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call the Genesee County Sheriff's Office. Source -


Italy - Hailstorm destroys apple orchards in the province of Ferrara

A devastating out-of-season hailstorm hit the province of Ferrara, destroying apple crops and damaging plants, with impacts that will be still be felt next year. The event occurred on October 3, 2019. "A heavy hailstorm hit Consandolo Argenta and Gualdo," technician Alessandro Passerini explained, "with damages to apple orchards in harvest time that had no protective nets. And that's not all: I've heard of an anti-hail system in Consandolo that collapsed under the weight of the ice, with great damages to Pink Lady apples". The hailstones were as big as a walnut, followed by gusts of wind and floods. "According to Confagricoltura, the heavy out-of-season hailstorm hit the strip of land that goes from Cona to Gaibana, crossing Voghiera. The pear orchards were affected too, causing injury to young buds. It's unusual to expect a hailstorm at this time of year. Coldiretti Ferrara also spoke about the event: "This year the territory of Ferrara recorded parasite attacks, such as the Asian bug, and fungus attacks such as the Alternaria, to name just a few episodes that knocked down especially the fruit cultivation. The violent downpour and the large-diameter hailstones did nothing but worsen the situation for other fruit orchards, including Golden and Fuji apples". Source -

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