The Lombardy branch of Coldiretti national farmers’ association, based in Milan, has estimated the damage caused so far by recent bad weather to crops and equipment across the region at some €100 million.
Since May, states their report, 13 ice storms have battered crops and greenhouses with hailstones ranging in size from that of peanuts to that of apricots, averaging one every 10 days.
Some 3,000 sqm of greenhouses have been destroyed, and vineyards and olive groves, orchards and maize fields, strawberry and vegetable crops damaged, as storms followed the surprise frosts during the spring. Around one third of the cultivated area of the region has suffered – but in some places the area damaged was as high as 90 per cent.
It is not only the size of the hailstones which is worrying, adds the report: the violence of the accompanying wind is multiplying the damaging effect, smashing greenhouses and ripping branches of the trees which shelter the crops. Meanwhile the unusually high temperatures and shortage of water are leading to wildfires which are damaging woods, cattle and crops “with a devastating effect on the environment, economy, work and tourism.”