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  Editorial Issue 164, Summer 2017   
2017: an Extreme Year2017: an Extreme Year  Contents 
Issue 163, June 2017 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 165, September 2017

2017: an Extreme Year


 2017 seems to be one of those years we will remember for a very long time. I am not talking about the quality of its wines - something, of course, we cannot discuss right now - indeed for its whims and unusual events about meteorology. What it is happening in 2017, from a weather point of view and its effects in meteorology, is causing a lot of troubles to agriculturists and farmers. Including vintners, of course. In case we are going to consider the fact it is just the beginning of summer and before getting to harvesting time some months have still to pass, there is nothing to be happy for. The same is true for those working on other types of cultures: before harvesting the fruits of this year, they need to wait for some time to pass. Not to mention the agricultural activities in which harvesting the fruits of the year occurs in fall, such as olives for making oil.


 

 An extreme year. After having severely lashed vineyards and other cultures with those extreme frosts last April - causing serious damages - it seems 2017 is not done yet in giving troubles to agriculturists. From one extreme to another, from severe and unexpected low temperatures in April, to the unbearable sultriness of the end of spring and beginning of summer. Indeed, it is not the heat to give troubles to vintners and agriculturists. The unexpected and intense heat has contributed to make things worse in terms of water reserves of the soil, it is evidently dry, also because of the very long absence of rains. It does not rain, and for a very long time, therefore what it is giving most of the troubles now is drought. If April's frosts have caused serious damages everywhere in Italy, by seriously compromising the hope of harvesting, what has been survived to that event is now severely threatened by drought.

 The absence of rains was something causing preoccupations to agriculturists since the beginning of spring. When the frosts happened in April, they forced everyone to focus on this grave event, however the problem of drought was already preoccupying vintners and farmers. At the beginning of April, before the arrival of frosts, Coldiretti (an Italian association of agriculturists) reported damages caused by drought, a problem preoccupying agriculturists and vintners quite a lot since then. Last April, in fact, Coldiretti reported the maximum temperatures in Italy were higher than 2.5 °C than the average with a diminution, during March, of 53% of rains. The consequence, one of the many, has been the lowering of Po river - the longest Italian river - as to make it reach, in April, the same level reported in summer 2016. Coldiretti also reported rains in Italy were already below than the season's average.

 The quantity of winter rains in Italy has been lower of 67% than the average. Last April Coldiretti expressed its concerns for the scarce quantity of rains and snow, fundamental for reconstituting soil's water reserve. In other words, the soil - as of April - provided a very low quantity of water with serious consequences for plants. With the arrival of frosts, things - of course - did not get any better. If drought was threatening the life of plants from “below”, frosts were doing the same from the “above”. According to Coldiretti, this is the result of climate changes occurring in Italy, with an evident change to season cycles, which effects have caused, in the last ten years, damages for more than fourteen billions euros. These figures - evidently both negative and preoccupying - did not get better and what happened in the following months, made even the most optimistic ones change their minds.

 We are now in summer and - like it was predicted - things did not get better, indeed, the preoccupations have increased and quite a lot. The new figures reported by Coldiretti tell about an even more serious condition than last April. With the arrival of the torrid heat in June and the lack of rains in spring, drought is now giving a lot of preoccupations to farmers. The new figures say rains in spring have been 50% less than the average, a condition widely determined by the lack of rains in winter. The grave drought in Italy is so preoccupying some regions have called for a state of emergency. In certain areas, moreover, the scarcity of water also affected the availability of water in towns and villages. Drought, it is now clear, is compromising the harvesting of vegetables, cereals and fruits and the sustenance of livestock is critical as well.

 Winter and spring 2017 - according to Coldiretti - respectively ranked third and second among the seasons with the lower quantity of rains from 1800 and damages are believed to be about one billions euros. Farmers, those who can, of course, are forced to irrigate the fields in order to save the crops. 2017, with its anomalous weather, is confirming the trend of climate changes occurring in the last years. These events - once again and it should be taken with scrupulous attention and consideration - must unavoidably make us think about what it is happening and we absolutely need to find a remedy for this. Consequences are evidently catastrophic for everyone, including agriculture which is the fundamental activity for the sustenance and nourishing of the world. Wine production, too, will unavoidably suffer consequences. Let's hope this 2017 will stop this crazy weather and may it welcome a highly desired and necessary normality.

Antonello Biancalana



   Share this article   Share on Google+   Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 164, Summer 2017   
2017: an Extreme Year2017: an Extreme Year  Contents 
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