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CLIMATE

‘Third of French wine production lost’ due to cold snap

At least a third of French wine production this year, representing almost €2 billion in sales, will be lost due to a bout of unusually cold early spring weather, a federation said Wednesday.

'Third of French wine production lost' due to cold snap
A winemaker in Le Landreau, near Nantes, checks his vines to see if there is any life left. Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

National Federation of Agricultural Holders’ Unions (FNSEA) secretary general Jérôme Despey told AFP that the estimate was made after consultations with all the players in the sector.

The rare freezing temperatures that have caused some of the worst damage in decades to crops and vines struck across France earlier this month, with the consequences compounded by the fact the cold snap came after warm weather.

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze with candles in bid to ward off frosts

“We should have six bunches of grapes per vine. Now we’re hoping for maybe one,” Michael Gerin told AFP at his 17-hectare property in the heart of the Rôone valley, one of the country’s prime wine-growing regions.

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve lost at least 70,000 bottles’ – French winemakers count the cost of late frosts

“This is probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century,” Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said on Monday, adding that France has never seen such an frost wave in early spring. The government is preparing an emergency package of measures.

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ENVIRONMENT

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Across south west France trapping campaigns have begun in an attempt to control the numbers of dangerous Asian hornets.

Massive hornet-trapping campaign begins in south west France

Trapping campaigns are organised annually at this time of year, as the weather begins to get warmer and queens begin to emerge from hibernation.

And the Charente-Maritime town of Royan Atlantique, on France’s west coast, is leading the way, as the below video shows.

Experts say that now is the time to begin using the traps, as catching queen hornets in the process of building their nests will lead to far fewer insects later in the year. 

Some 2,000 traps are installed in and around Royan this year, including 300 that were distributed to householders in the week of Valentine’s Day. 

Once installed, the traps can capture several dozen insects at a time.

In order to capture a maximum of hornet queens, traps should be installed between mid-February and mid-May. Especially since during this period, these predators end up coming out of their hibernation.

It is believed Asian hornets arrived in France around 2004. They have now spread nationwide.

Although their venom is not more powerful than that of normal bees or wasps, they are known to be more aggressive towards humans, and their stings can cause anaphylactic shock in allergic people.

The hornets also damage beehives and kill bees, damaging honey stocks and destroying the native ecosystem.

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