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Helicopters, lanterns: French farmers prepare to beat the freeze

Farms in northern France could lose their harvest if temperatures drop as low as -3°C or -4°C, so preemptive measures need to be taken

French farmers are preparing for tonight’s (March 31) freezing temperatures Pic: Firn / Shutterstock

Farmers are preparing to protect their crops as temperatures are set to fall by around 20°C over the course of this week in parts of northern France with a cold front moving down from the Arctic. 

Some are installing lanterns to warm tree trunks while others are using helicopters to stop the hot air rising with their blade movement.

Read more: Nord and Pas-de-Calais on orange weather alerts for snow and ice

One farmer near Lille has seen his fruit trees begin to blossom in recent days because of the warm, sunny weather. However, these buds could be destroyed by freezing temperatures. 

“If we get to -3°C, -4°C, I would say that 90% or even 100% of the harvest will be lost for these plum trees,” he told Franceinfo.

Last year, when the progress of spring was brought to a halt by even colder temperatures, he did lose 90% of his fruits. 

Therefore, this year he is taking steps to fight the cold. He has connected a special, hyper-localised weather sensor, positioned within his farm, to his smartphone, allowing him to view the trajectory of the temperatures in real time and act accordingly.

He has placed lanterns around the trunks of his fruit trees to keep them warm, and has covered his other crops in insulating plastic.

In Dijon, vineyards are also using the lantern technique, burning paraffin in buckets to keep temperatures up. 

Farmers are also deploying helicopters, whose rapid blade movements will prevent the hot air from rising, pushing it back down to the ground. 

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