Sabato, 22 Settembre 2018
ROME

Steaming-hot summer in Italy threatens wine harvest

English
© ANSA

(ANSA) - Rome, August 20 - As the thermometer remains
stubbornly high in much of Italy, energy bills are soaring and
the fall harvest is threatened.
Consumers are using record amounts of energy to run air
conditioners and fans to keep cool, farmers fear they will lose
as much as 30% of their crops to drought and the ill and elderly
are trapped inside their homes.
One man died near his tractor while working in the heat in
the fields near Francica, in the southern area of Calabria.
Fortunato Mondella, 73, is believed to have died from an
illness worsened by the extreme heat.
Another heat wave boiling up from Africa continues to
menace much of the country.
The latest, dubbed Caligula, led the ministry of health to
issue a red alert early this week for several Italian cities,
including Rome, where temperatures were expected to hit 37
degrees Celsius, and Verona, where the temperatures would feel
like 38 degrees.
Still, record-keepers say this year's heat has not beaten
the 2003 mark for heat.
"That year in each of the four months between May and
August, the recorded temperatures were the warmest since 1800,"
says Michele Brunetti, an atmosphere specialist at the National
Research Council.
That is no comfort to Italian farmers whose losses could
reach 1.2 billion euros this year, according to the Italian
Confederation of Farmers.
"The poor weather conditions are leading to a generalized
decline in production volumes in excess of 25-30%, with peaks of
50% for certain sectors," says the agricultural organization.
Add in rising input and labour costs, and farmers are
facing a very difficult time, says the organization.
White grapes for the production of sparkling Oltrepo Pavese
and Franciacorta face a 20% drop in production, adds Coldiretti,
representing farmers across Italy.
Reductions in wine production are also expected in the rest
of Lombardy, Puglia, Veneto, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont,
and Friuli Venezia-Giulia, says Coldiretti.
Tomato and corn crops could drop as much as 30% this year,
soybeans could be down 40% and forecasts are for a cut by half
in sugar beet production.
Meanwhile, temperatures reaching 36 degrees in Italy's
northern mountain region are creating unusual hazards, says the
Safe Mountain Foundation.
While the Western Alps are currently very dry, changes in
temperatures are causing poor conditions and such hazards as
falling rocks, glaciers and problems with snow bridges.

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