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Spring Cold, Storms, Damage Fruit Trees, Endanger Vineyards

May 7, 1991

ROME (AP) _ The snow, frost and rain of Italy’s coldest spring in 15 years have damaged fruit and olive trees and endangered vineyards, agricultural officials said Tuesday.

Wine producers said they’ll know in a few days whether the vines were damaged by the cold.

Meteorologists said the last spring with such low temperatures and rainy weather was in 1976. This year, after a few weeks of warm temperatures in early spring, the weather turned wet and cold in late April. Forecasters say it is expected to stay that way for at least a few more days.

Agricultural officials met Tuesday with Deputy Premier Claudio Martelli to press for aid as soon as the extent of damage is known.

Most of the agricultural damage was in central and northern Italy.

In Tuscany, known for its wine and olive oil, cultivators estimated damage at $90 million.

″The grape vines, olice groves and many fruit trees in the area around Grosseto, Siena, Arezzo and Florence have been damaged,″ the Tuscan agricultural federation reported. It said many small rivers and streams have overrun their banks, wiping out fields of tomatoes, corn and sunflowers.

Growers in the province of Turin said the kiwi crop was heavily damaged by frost. The cold occurred just as flowers on peach, apricot and apple trees were bearing or about to bear fruit, and growers said they’ll must wait to see if the fruit matures.

Four to eight inches of snow fell on the slopes of the central Appennines in a 24-hour period ending Tuesday morning.

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