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Fruit is disappearing from Italian orchards due to extreme weather, farmers warn

Six out of 10 pears have disappeared from Italian orchards, a farmers association warns.
Six out of 10 pears have disappeared from Italian orchards, a farmers association warns. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Angela Symons
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Six out of 10 pears have disappeared from Italian orchards this summer, a farmers association warns.

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Extreme weather is decimating crops in Italy, farmers warn.

Farmers association Coldiretti says six out of 10 pears have disappeared from Italian orchards. They put this down to floods, hail, record-high temperatures and non-native insect attacks.

With Italy’s pear yields down by 63 per cent compared to last year, overall supply in Europe has plummeted by 13 per cent. Pears in France have also been hit, with harvests down 23 per cent.

Harvests of grapes, watermelons, apricots, tomatoes and aubergines in Italy have likewise suffered losses due to the climate.

What other products have been impacted by Italy’s weather extremes?

Italy’s fruit farmers aren’t the only ones affected by the country’s ‘whiplash weather’.

Wheat and milk production are down by 10 per cent and wine grape production by 14 per cent compared with 2022, according to Coldiretti analysis.

Honey production has plummeted by a massive 70 per cent, as bees are too “exhausted” by the heat to pollinate plants, the association says.

Farmers are leveraging technology such as drones and satellites to save water and counter the effects of climate change, it adds.

Italy has faced an unpredictable summer

It’s been a tough year for Italy on the climate front. In May, Emilia-Romagna - an important fruit farming region - was struck by devastating floods that killed 15 people.

After two years of drought, the downpours did little to alleviate the situation due to dry, impermeable ground.

Last month, the country edged close to its highest ever temperature record as heatwaves swept across the Mediterranean and sparked deadly wildfires - including in Sicily. Lombardy, in northern Italy, was meanwhile pummelled by tennis ball-sized hailstones.

The extremes have been exacerbated by human-caused climate change, which scientists say is making such events more frequent and extreme, and the El Niño weather pattern.

Supply issues could lead to shortages and price hikes in Europe

Earlier this year, UK shoppers faced bare fruit and vegetable shelves and inflated prices after unusual weather disrupted harvests in Spain and Morocco. Increased energy costs and Brexit bureaucracy contributed to the shortages.

In July, nearly half of the European Union was exposed to warning levels of drought, stoking further fears for food production and prices.

Fruit and veg - particularly tomatoes and related products like pizzas and ketchup - have been particularly affected in Europe. Cereal crops such as wheat and barley have also been badly impacted by a year of floods, drought and heat, leading to knock on effects for livestock feed and farming.

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