The apples in the orchard at La Palazzetta sparkle like diamonds in the spring sun, deliberately covered with ice to protect them from frost.
“Last night we saved 5,000 tonnes of apples by this method” in the Valtellina valley in northern Italy, said Jacopo Fontaneto, a local branch of the agricultural organization Coldiretti.
At first glance, it seems unintuitive to freeze plants to protect them from a sharp drop in temperature, as was felt this week in Italy and much of Europe.
“It’s simple – we use the existing irrigation system to flush the hose with plants when temperatures drop to zero. The ice that is then formed provides thermal insulation,” Fontaneto told AFP.
“It allows the flowers to stay at that temperature, instead of falling overnight to minus three or minus four degrees Celsius, as happened last night, which would destroy them.”
Parts of Italy were hit by cold spells and even snow earlier this week after enjoying above-average temperatures just days earlier.
Coldiretti warned that the frost had reduced agricultural production in some areas by almost half, affecting apricots, peaches, strawberries, kiwis and some vegetables.
While some farmers freeze their crops, others light bonfires overnight to keep them warm, at some cost.
“In Italy, we are facing the consequences of climate change with a tendency to tropize and multiply extreme events,” Coldiretti said.
Climate events, including floods and rapid changes between sunlight and bad weather, have hit national agricultural production and caused structural damage, causing losses of about 14 billion euros over a decade, Coldiretti added.
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© 2021 AFP
Citation: Italian sparkling apple trees frozen to survive (2021, April 8) downloaded April 8, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-italy-apple-trees-frozen-survive.html
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