Fruit growers and winemakers in France have reported that the majority of their harvest this year has been lost to the significant cold snap that spread through parts of Europe from Wednesday, April 7 to Friday, April 9, 2021. Many industry experts believe that the frost damage might be the worst since the 1990s.

French farmers started counting the cost on Friday, April 9, after a deep cyclonic vortex from North Atlantic went down on northern Europe. Frosty conditions covered much of France, where many areas recorded their lowest April temperature on record.

“No region has been spared– beets, rape, barley, vines fruit trees [have been lost]. All the different kinds of support must be activated urgently,” said the National Federation of Unions for Farmers (FNSEA). “Exceptional situations call for exceptional measures.”

Farmers across the country had attempted to save their harvest by lighting fires and candles amid the frost. However, extreme cold conditions still ravaged about 90 percent of this year’s harvest, local winemakers and fruit growers reported to the FNSEA.

“The winegrowers are devastated, downcast,” said Philippe Pellaton, president of the Inter-Rhone Association of winegrowers, adding that this year should see the smallest harvest of the Côtes du Rhône in the past 40 years.

Around 80 to 90 percent of the nearly 68 000 ha (168 000) acres) making up the terroir have been ravaged to the frost.

Many other industry experts said the frost damage may be the worst since the 1990s.

“It’s a national phenomenon,” said Jerome Despey, a winemaker from the Herault region and the secretary-general of the FNSEA.

“You can go back in history, there have been (freezing) episodes in 1991, 1997, 2003 but in my opinion, it’s beyond all of them.”

Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie assured that the government is “fully mobilized to provide the necessary support to affected farmers. Around 70 million euros from the country’s 100 billion euro COVID-19 recovery plan would go to the farmers so they can invest in protective equipment for their crops.