Cieza, Jan 29 (EFE).- When temperatures drop below zero degrees, Cieza’s fruit farms are in danger of losing their crops, which has forced farmers to sharpen their ingenuity: from mills that shoot hot air to protecting the incipient flowers with small ice “igloos” are recurring techniques on the harshest nights of winter.
This is what has happened, for example, in the early hours of this Sunday, when, around 4 o’clock, there have been peak temperatures of up to 6.7 degrees below zero.
The head of Agriculture and Water of the Union of Small Farmers (UPA) of the Region of Murcia, Antonio Moreno, explained to EFE that today’s were not the first frosts of winter, but they were very dangerous: “in other episodes previous ones had already lost part of the flowers, which is not a problem, since a single tree has flowers equivalent to about five harvests.
However, when part of these have already been lost, preventing the remaining ones from being damaged is essential so that farmers can maintain their profits, and that is when the various methods are activated to avoid these frosts, which can cost about 2,000 euros per night on a family farm, warns the agricultural representative.
Very high costs, but which many assume as a lesser evil given the prospect of losing peach production.
The farmer Antonio García has opted this morning in his farm for the creation of “igloos” to protect the flowers, a method that is almost surprising for those who do not know the field, and that creates an incredible image of frozen trees, covered with icicles, that turn the landscape of Cieza into a unique spectacle.
The system consists, explains Moreno, in generating “rain” on the trees throughout the cold episode, until temperatures are positive again.
This irrigation creates a layer of ice above the entire tree that, paradoxically, protects the flowers by leaving them encapsulated as if it were an igloo, preventing the cold from reaching its interior and thus avoiding damage to the flower.
It is, perhaps, the most striking protection method, but not the only one: Ciezano farmers usually also use fumigation treatments with amino acids that hydrate the tree and thicken the sap, making it difficult for it to coagulate and crystallize, thus avoiding breakage. of plant membranes.
Another of the usual systems is the use of diesel fuel mills that launch jets of hot air rotating 180 degrees, as if it were giant dryers, with the aim of displacing cold air away from the trees and avoiding frost.
The burning of vegetable paraffins is another of the alternatives: about 200 of these giant candles are placed for each hectare of cultivation, between the trees, to heat them and also avoid frost.
“Farmers are continually investigating, we work a lot on this issue, we look for different mechanisms because they are all very expensive, but necessary to avoid ruining the crops,” says Moreno.
All these measures are applied, he points out, in a timely manner on the coldest nights, which means that farmers live pending the weather forecasts and follow minute by minute the evolution of winter nights to guarantee that in the summer we can enjoy of the quality of its peaches.