Recently, he spent several sleepless nights watching over his orchards and will surely do the same in early next week.
For Daniel Sauvaitre, who produces apples and cherries in Reignac (Charente), as for thousands of farmers and winegrowers, Monday and Tuesday nights will be crucial.
Last week, already, devastating spring frosts nipped in the bud any hint of a future harvest, in the vineyards and orchards in particular, what is more in regions usually spared (Languedoc, Var, Gard, etc.) .
If it is too early to take a full picture, the economic shock will be significant for many producers.
The Prime Minister, Jean Castex, also promised this Saturday “exceptional envelopes” to farmers and the removal of the ceiling from the Disaster Fund.
But what will happen to consumers?
Will they see the prices soar?
This is to be expected "insofar as all production areas are affected", according to the Ministry of Agriculture, while on Saturday, on Europe 1, the president of Young Farmers, Samuel Vandaele, judged that "the fruits risk being much rarer, and therefore much more expensive".
"A few euro cents" in addition for the apricots
From one sector to another, however, the situation is mixed.
Apricot, for example, is particularly affected.
"Knowing that in certain areas, 100% of production has been destroyed, it is already certain that the production potential will not be there", judge Bruno Darnaud, president of the PDO Pêches et apricots from France, convinced that "prices should go up a little, by a few cents, in the coming months".
The frost has decimated the beet fields of Loiret
Already last year, the 29% drop in French apricot production propelled prices 37% higher than their 2015-2019 average… Conversely, if apple and pear trees were affected, “ there is still a possibility of significant flowering, but we will not know until later ”, relativizes Daniel Sauvaitre, who chairs the National Association of Apples and Pears and Secretary General of Interfel, a national agricultural inter-professional association in the fresh fruit and vegetable sector. .
The threat of the double penalty for French producers
But beware, in this sector where the law of supply and demand prevails, everything is played out at the European level.
Thus, with regard to apricots, for example, Spain and Italy have also suffered these episodes of frost, so that the overall European supply will be reduced.
This could therefore result in an overall increase in tariffs.
Conversely, if countries flood the French market with their fruit - producers fear Turkish cherry imports in particular - prices will have to remain competitive.
Otherwise the consumer will not follow.
"In France, products
made in France
are already more expensive than imported products and if there is too much difference, it will not sell," warns a distributor.
Fall of their production and corseted prices… for the French producers, it would then be clearly the double penalty.
"Apricots, but also apples or pears ... the risk is all the more real as we come out of a year when prices were already relatively high", recognizes Daniel Sauvaitre.
"In Vaucluse, between 70 and 90% of the production of cherries is lost, concludes René Reynard, president of the national PDO Raisin de table et Cerise de France, but if consumers shun our fruit, we will not be able to increase our price.
Wine prices could also rise
This is another of the consequences of this disaster for the fruit production of the year.
With 50 to 80% of the buds of the vines destroyed and 20 to 50% of the future stillborn harvests, the winegrowers are among the most affected by this episode of frost.
Here too, should we also expect a rise in wine prices?
A priori, not before 2022, since the harvest will take place between August and October 2021.
Burgundy: spectacular images of thousands of fires lit to warm the vines
Jean-Marie Barillère, the president of the National Committee of Wine Interprofessions (CNIV), points out a difference between rosés or whites, which are generally consumed during the year and “for which there should be an increase in wine. prices in 2022 ”, and wines that age between two and five years, such as certain reds,“ for which the loss of half of the harvest will have less impact ”.