Harvests worth 43 million dollars destroyed by the “devastating” hailstorm in Spain

By | September 19, 2023

Farmers in the southeastern Spanish city of Valencia are struggling after bad weather hit the region over the weekend, destroying nearly $43 million worth of crops on thousands of acres of land. In some cases, almost 100% of some farmers’ crops were affected, according to the Valencian Farmers’ Association.

The significant agricultural loss came as several regions of Valencia and Castellón – both located on the Balearic Sea coast – were hit by an intense hailstorm on Sunday.

“[The storm] “It caused devastating damage to crops,” the association explained, “some of which were on the verge of being harvested.”

Spanish Meteorological Agency On Sunday, in fact, the Valencian region warned that the storm would move “rapidly”, but that it would bring “very heavy rain and hailstorms”, according to the translation. “Strong gusts of wind” and more than 1,300 lightning strikes were also recorded. The hail was larger than a 1 euro coin.

Initial estimates say the weather has caused losses of around 40 million euros – an amount equal to $42.8 million in US dollars – across more than 37,000 acres of land. Some farmers had an impact amounting to almost “100% of the crop”, the association said, with a range of products affected, including vineyards, citrus, persimmons, avocados, almond trees, olive trees, rice and vegetables.

The hardest-hit area appears to be the Utiel-Requena region, which saw “a carpet of stones about four centimeters thick” across more than 19,700 acres, the association said. That area alone is believed to have losses of more than $12.8 million, with some winemakers losing “their entire grape production in the middle of the harvest season,” the association said.

Many of these same farmers are also grappling with “serious damage” to their vineyards that could create problems next season, the association said, adding that they believe Utiel-Requena – the region’s main grape producer – will see more than 60% decrease in harvest compared to recent annual averages.

The intense storm that hit the region is just the latest impact felt climate change. As global temperatures continue to rise, they will help fuel more frequent and intense extreme weather events such as hailstorms, while prolonging droughts and impacting vital water availability.

Harvesters divide rows of rice so that each removes weeds from a specific area in El Perellonet, Valencia, Spain, on July 14, 2022. / Credit: Loyola Perez de Villegas Muniz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Harvesters divide rows of rice so that each removes weeds from a specific area in El Perellonet, Valencia, Spain, on July 14, 2022. / Credit: Loyola Perez de Villegas Muniz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Last year, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality published a report saying that Spain loses 6% of its agricultural production every year due to extreme weather conditions. Agri-food – which according to the report is a driving force of the Spanish economy – is one of the areas most threatened by climate change.

“Climate change is one of the great challenges for agriculture and food, as the consequences of rising temperatures could change the fragile balance in which many crops are grown,” the report says. “This risk is greatest in Mediterranean countries, one of the regions most affected by global warming, and in particular in Spain, where 75% of its surface is already at risk of desertification.”

The quality of production is expected to suffer a “significant decline” if the global average temperature rises by 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, the report warns – a milestone that the world we will probably see it in 2023. If global temperatures exceed this or 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the country is also expected to see increased water stress and five to 10 times more drought, the report says, as precipitation would come less often and more intense showers than they would make “the water less usable”. for agriculture.”

And there is only one sure way to attempt to limit this outcome.

“While there are adaptation measures that could mitigate some of the impact,” the report says, “they have limited capacity that could be overcome if there was no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

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