Frosty spring hits French and German farmers and winemakers | News | DW | 25.08.2017
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Frosty spring hits French and German farmers and winemakers

France's wine production is expected to fall by 18 percent this year after spring frost damaged vines, the Agriculture Ministry reports. The German Farmers' Association also announced decreased yields across the board.

On Friday, France's Agriculture Ministry reported that the frigid weather last spring could make wine significantly more precious this fall. Bitter cold struck twice within a week in April, ravaging fragile shoots and buds that had emerged prematurely following mild temperatures in March.

"The 2017 wine harvest is expected to be 37.2 million hectoliters (980 million gallons), which is 18 percent less than 2016 and 17 percent below the average over the past five years," the ministry announced in a statement released on Friday.

In July, the ministry reported that the cold had wrought havoc in southwestern France's wine regions such as Bordeaux and Charente, as well as in Jura and Alsace in the northeast. The ministry also anticipates losses in the Burgundy region, in Languedoc and in southeastern France.

Times have been tough for vintners in France, which is second only to Italy in global wine production. In 2016, Champagne was down 20 percent.

This contrasts with 2011, when dry weather wreaked havoc for farmers.

Watch video 01:24

Bad Year for French Wine

'Game of nerves'

The German Farmers' Association (DBV) reports that the frosty spring and the summer's hail have also wreaked havoc on agriculture in the Federal Republic. In addition to the smallest apple harvest since 1991, yields of pears, cherries and, yes, wine were decreased, and grain producers were experiencing a "game of nerves," with the harvest down nearly a million tons from 2016, to 44.5 million.

The hardest hit states were Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria. Attempting to put a financial value on the amount of food lost, the DBV arrived at 200 million euros ($236 million) for the April frost and another 250 million euros on the damage caused by the summer's hail and heavy rains. In some areas, there were "complete losses," DBV chief Joachim Rukwied said.

At 555,000 tons, the apple yield was just 46 percent of 2016's; pears were also about half of last year's total. Beer and wine drinkers will have to deal with a "less than average harvest" of wine and grapes, though barley was up 5 percent.

German growers have asked for federal and state assistance to augment funds from insurers to cover their losses. In 2015, they were hit by an oversupply

mkg/cl (Reuters, AFP)

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