Hailstorms and high winds appear to have caused considerable damage to pear trees in Italy’s main production areas just as harvesting was about to start in earnest, casting a shadow over the initial months of the season.
With the financial impact estimated to be in the order of many millions of euros, producers in Emilia-Romagna, Modena, Ferrara and Reggio Emilia were counting the cost of Saturday’s storms, which sources suggest affected around 10,000 tonnes of fruit – mainly pears, but also some apples.
“In terms of intensity, hailstone size and duration, the damage caused to pear and apple production by the hailstorm that is difficult to calculate today,” Eugenia Bergamaschi, president of Confagricoltura Modena, told news agency AGI, referring to hailstones that were as large as 3cm in diameter in some instances.
“Even the anti-hail structures were hit, with nets broken and several poles uprooted by the weight of the hail,” she added.
Enrico Paradisi, president of Confagricoltura Modena’s National Association of Young Farmers, said the damage would potentially only be seen in the next couple of years.
“It’s not just the damage to the [fruit] that is worrying, but the damage that the plants have suffered,” he said. “In the coming days we will try to assess the damage, because the uncertainty is mainly about the 2016/17 production.”