SHARE
COPY LINK

FARMING

IN PHOTOS: Why Italian farms are freezing fruit trees to protect from frost

Fruit growers in northern Italy have turned their fields into a winter wonderland, in a surprising strategy to save the young harvest from the sudden April frost.

IN PHOTOS: Why Italian farms are freezing fruit trees to protect from frost
Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

We’ve seen Italian and French vineyards ablaze with candles in a bid to keep temperatures above freezing during cold snaps, but another method used by some producers seems more counterintuitive.

The apple trees in the orchard in La Palazzetta, in Valtellina in northern Italy, were among those deliberately covered in ice this week to protect delicate blooms from frost as temperatures plunged. 

Apple trees covered with a layer of ice after being watered to protect blossoms from the frost at an orchard in La Palazzetta, a village located some 100km from Milan. Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP
The ice coat is supposed to protect the delicate blossoms from cold temperatures and spring freezes that have hit Italy in recent days. Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

“Last night we saved 5,000 tonnes of apples using this method” across the valley, said Jacopo Fontaneto, of the local branch of the Coldiretti agricultural organisation.

It may not seem like an obvious strategy to freeze the plants to protect them from a sudden drop in temperatures, as was felt across Italy and much of Europe this week.

“It’s simple – we use the existing irrigation system to hose down the plants when temperatures get down to zero. The ice that then forms provides thermal insulation,” Fontaneto told AFP.

Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP
Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

“It allows the flowers to stay at that temperature, instead of dropping during the night to minus three or minus four degrees Celsius, as happened last night, which would destroy them.”

Many parts of Italy were hit by a cold snap and even snow earlier this week after basking in above-average temperatures just a few days earlier.

Coldiretti warned the frost had cut agricultural production in some areas by almost half, affecting apricots, peaches, strawberries, kiwis and some vegetables.

While some farmers are freezing their crops, others are lighting bonfires or candles overnight to warm them, at some cost.

READ ALSO:

“In Italy we are facing the consequences of climate change with a tendency towards tropicalisation and the multiplication of extreme events,” Coldiretti said.

Climate events including flooding and rapid shifts between sunshine and bad weather have hit national agricultural production and caused structural damage, causing losses of some 14 billion euros over a decade, Coldiretti added.

Photo: Piero Cruciatti/AFP

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

LA BELLA VITA

La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you’ll find in Italy

From Italian podcasts to surprising delicacies and our favourite overlooked travel destinations, new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you'll find in Italy

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

A cornerstone of Italian culture, the tabaccheria is used for much more than just buying cigarettes. In fact, these little shops are pretty central to everyday life and anyone who moves to or just spends time in Italy will need to become as familiar with them as they are with the local coffee bar.

From paying bills to purchasing bus tickets, here are just some of the services you should know about and a few tips for your first visit.

Why the tabaccheria is essential to life in Italy – even if you don’t smoke

For Italian language learners: listening to podcasts is a great way to immerse yourself in a new language. Luckily there’s a vast range of audio shows for people wanting to learn Italian, whether you’re studying at an advanced level or learning from scratch. Here we’ve selected a few of our favourites, plus readers’ suggestions:

Some of the best podcasts for learners of Italian

Italy is known worldwide for pizza and gelato, but Italian cuisine is incredibly diverse and visitors are often surprised by some of the local delicacies on offer. I know rustic Tuscan cuisine didn’t exactly match my expectations when I first arrived in Italy. I quickly learned to love it – but my mother-in-law’s homemade chocolate cake made with pig’s blood (sanguinaccio is a delicacy in Puglia…) was a step too far!

So, from fried brains and tripe to suggestive desserts that you definitely wouldn’t expect the local priest to approve of, here’s a look at some more of the traditional foods loved by Italians – but not always by foreigners.

From fried brains to ‘sexy’ cakes: The Italian foods you might not expect in Italy

Visitors can find more than they bargained for at a traditional Italian food market. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

As regular visitors know, there’s much more to Italy than just the glamour of Rome, Venice or Florence, but some destinations suffer – we think unfairly – from negative reputations. From Caserta to Reggio Calabria and beyond, here are some of the overlooked Italian towns that are home to incredible sights that everyone should see at least once.

Nine overlooked Italian towns you should visit

If you’re planning a visit to Italy (or to another part of Europe from Italy) this year but want to cut down your carbon footprint, train travel is a great option and there are more routes than ever connecting Italy’s major cities to other parts of the continent.

Here are some of the main direct international train services you can use for travel between Italy and other European countries this year.

The train routes connecting Italy to the rest of Europe in 2023

Remember if you’d like to have this weekly newsletter sent straight to your inbox you can sign up for it via Newsletter preferences in “My Account”.

Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected]

SHOW COMMENTS