Severe hailstorms devastate agriculture in Valencia & Murcia, Spain

Severe Weather Alert

Valencia’s agriculture is not going through good times and the weather has become its worst possible ally. After one of the driest years on record, which has resulted in significant losses, the region has now been hit by hail. 
The storms affected large areas of the Region of Valencia last Tuesday afternoon, causing severe and extensive damage to agriculture. According to initial estimates of the Valencian Growers Association (AVA-ASAJA), the area affected is of about 45,000 hectares, mainly in the region of Ribera, with a total of 40,000 h. affected, and to a lesser extent, the region of Safor and certain parts of the town of Navarrés. They claim that the hail at times reached the size of golf balls.
Between 60% and 100% of the crops have been affected, including citrus, persimmons, melons and watermelons. The damage is sure to have dire repercussions for the future persimmon and citrus campaigns, as well as for melons and watermelons, whose campaigns are currently in full swing. 
The president of AVA-ASAJA, Cristóbal Aguado, said that “this storm is a real disaster and the worst part is that it adds to other recent hailstorms occurred in various Valencian regions, but above all, to the devastating effects of the droughts. Our agriculture is going through a critical time and the response we have received from the government is not up to the sector’s needs.”
12,000 hectares damaged in Murcia 
Although with not as heavy losses, about 12,000 hectares of stonefruit and, to a lesser extent, table grapes are estimated to have been affected in the Region of Murcia.
Fortunately, the stonefruit season is nearly over, as already 80% of the production has already been harvested. The only damaged crops are yellow peaches and the later nectarine varieties. It remains to be seen whether the damages will affect next year’s production volumes.
The table grape plantations, where the harvesting period is now starting, have suffered fewer damages, as they are generally protected by anti-hail nets; however, in several areas of Blanca and Abarán hail reached the size of golf balls, as in the case of Valencia. 
“For growers in the areas affected, hail is their worst enemy. For this reason, thankfully, most have their properties insured against this type of weather and have not lost everything,” said Jose Luis Muñoz, Communications Manager of COAG Murcia. “Definitely the biggest drawback of this is that the stonefruit season is over between 15 and 20 days earlier than usual, with the consequent losses in revenue and wages.”

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