Czech wine growers count cost of severe frost

Czech wine growers say severe frost which occurred at the end of April is likely to cost them around half a billion crowns. A national association of winegrowers anounced on Tuesday that the price of grapes is likely to rise this year as a result of the shortage of wine grapes.

Photo: Filip JandourekPhoto: Filip Jandourek Czech wine growers are trying to put a cost on the possible damage from severe frosts which occurred at the end of April. In some parts of the Czech Republic, including the wine growing region of South Moravia, temperatures plunged as low as minus six degrees Celsius.

According to the growers, there were many local differences in the severity of the possible damage. Among the Czech Republic’s wine growing areas, Velké Bílovice was hardest hit last month, sustaining between 60 to 80 percent fall in output and Velké Pavlovice with 20 percent fall in output. By contrast Znojmo suffered practically zero damage, president of the country’s wine growers union Tibor Nitra told the Czech News Agency on Tuesday.

The most severe frost occurred on April 20, when the temperature in South Moravia dropped to minus six degrees Celsius. Growers made last minute attempts to curb the expected damage with protective coverings, candles and heaters.

The winegrowers union announced on Tuesday that it will demand subsidies from the state to cover the cost of the special candles used to warm up the crops. They are also asking for an increase of compensations from the State Agricultural Intervention Fund.

The country’s winegrowers were not the only ones affected by severe frosts. Sharp frost has also damaged the country’s fruit production. Initial estimates say the damage to the fruit crop could come to hundreds of millions of crowns but it could take a week or 10 days for a more precise figure to be arrived at.

According to Martin Ludvík, the head of the fruit growers’ union, night frost has damaged mainly damaged peaches and apricots, and partly also affected plums, cherries and pears. Apples, which are traditionally the main fruit commodity grown in the Czech Republic, have probably not been affected by the freezing weather.

Last year, Czech wine and fruit growers recorded even greater damage which accounting to more than one billion crowns.