Sunday 17 December 2017

Vineyards get 'shield' to stop hail damage

Merlot grapes in a vineyard. Stock picture
Merlot grapes in a vineyard. Stock picture

Henry Samuel

The vineyards of Burgundy are about to become the first in France to be covered by a "hailstone shield" against storms that have blighted the region.

By June, the entire area will be protected by a network of 125 generators that send silver iodide particles to the clouds, where they stop the formation of lethal precipitation.

The move follows several years of severe hail storms in the region. In 2016, Macon and Chablis were particularly hard hit.

Burgundy's regional association for the study and fight against atmospheric issues (Arelfa) has raised funding for the technology from frustrated wine producers.

"Hail storms have increased in recent years, the intensity is greater," said Arelfa president Thibault Huber, who produces Burgundy reds and whites in his four hectares (10 acres).

"Since 2001, it's been terrible. When it hails, sometimes 90 or even 100pc of the grape harvest is lost. It's more and more frequent," he said.

"We lost a huge amount of money and feared for our future."

Irish Independent

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