The so-called global warming is a great-relevance topic nowadays and the main focus of several scientific summits, where causes and consequences of this phenomena are debated. We have anyway to admit an irrefutable certainty: climate change has become inexorable in the past decades, deeply affecting and concerning our daily life.
Farmers are one of the categories most exposed to risks deriving from climate change and, in realizing their multiannual production plants, are therefore obliged to consider it as part of their plan, undertaking forward-looking strategical decisions to contrast it. Budgets of agricultural companies are meagre, it’s a fact, and there is therefore no more room to withstand planning mistakes.
Actual trends highlight two major scopes of problems: high-temperature and heavy hailstorms.
If the latter is every day more evident (in the recent period we had three strong events that hit large part of Italy with big damages, last one just a week ago along Adriatic coast, from Emilia Romagna to Apulia), about the first one, on the other hand, we are still not so much aware, making it even more dangerous.
High temperatures, in fact, combined with high solar irradiation made of UV-ray and infrared cause big oxidization stress on the fruit.
Plant uses its anthocyanin, flavonoid, vitamin C, phenols substances, etc natural chemical defenses. but after a certain level, fruit will unavoidably show first symptoms of sunburn.
Another problematic aspect is represented by the fact that, sometimes, evidences of sun burning appears only after harvesting, negatively influencing quality and commercial value of refrigerated product.
Damages, furthermore, does not only affect fruits or leaves but, on plants stressed by sunburns, alteration of the bark may also arise, possibly causing pathogenic organisms colonies, a phenomena known as “Sunscald” in the USA.
In some areas of southern Italy we can notice painting with white lime on kegs, which main purpose is reflecting light, dissipating heat and therefore preventing injuries or cracks on wood.
A recent article on Freshplaza network accurately describes the dramatic situation developing in a major Spanish area. A worrying overview which Italian fruit producers should carefully consider, since our latitude and general environment are not significantly different from Italians ones.
From a first analysis we clearly understand that investments in fruit and vegetable productions must be realized according to a detailed program on crops, human resources and the essential protections structures.
Considering present climate evolution, protection structures has to provide, further than traditional plant support and hail covering, insect- and sunburn-protection, that are likely to be our next enemy also at latitudes that were, up to now, unforeseeable.
It is furthermore necessary that protection plants are realized using the best engineering knowledge applicable on tensile structures and with best quality materials, to assure a long-lasting life that will be severely affected by exceptional climate events, that are now becoming daily routine.
Structures represent then an important part of a bigger strategy to be successful in agri-food sector, from well-known cheese brands to wine, pasta, etc.
Of course, there is lot of work to do in agriculture companies as well as in commercialization of OP and similar, but a visit to supermarket is enough to understand the situation.
We should no more believe a better turnover will result only from increased quantity produced on same surface, focusing just in cutting costs. This is now a short-sighted vision of the business, especially if we consider our competitors may be already dealing with climate change topics with which we are now forces to deal.