Drought: a mayor of Tarn-et-Garonne asks the prefect to ban anti-hail cannons

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The storm surges of the last few days have not been enough to fill the lakes. The mayor of Beaumont-de-Lomagne is the spokesperson for cereal growers worried about the lack of water… and angry at hearing the arborists’ anti-hail cannons go off at every weather alert. The effectiveness of these cannons has never been proven… but some accuse them of sharing thunderstorms.

Haro on the hail cannons. This device, used by many arborists as soon as the weather announces a stormy episode with a risk of hail, is in the sights of the mayor of Beaumont-de-Lomagne.

On Thursday, Jean-Luc Deprince made a fuss… and “will write to the prefect of Tarn-et-Garonne, with whom I have already spoken on the matter, to ask him to issue an ordinance banning the use of anti-hail cannons” . The elect, himself a farmer, is the spokesman for the wheat growers of Lomagne and the hills of Quercy worried about the idea of ​​reliving an irrigation season as tense as last summer. “What exasperates me is that people keep telling us: it’s a drought, we have to save water. So when it has to fall somewhere, we have to let it fall.”

Jean-Luc Deprince takes as an example the last two stormy episodes that hit the Tarn-et-Garonne on Tuesday and Wednesday. “On Tuesday evening, the storms arose from the Agenais. But it is the same every time, when the clouds arrive in the valley of the Garonne then in that of the Tarn, there is cannon fire in the orchards. effect of sharing the storms. Part of is heading towards the Gers further west and the other towards the Lot Tuesday evening it fell 60mm at Solomiac 12km from Beaumont and we had nothing happened Wednesday evening it happened again this vaulted south of Montauban. There, Saint-Nauphary received 50 mm of water, a real deluge.”

In ten days we only had twenty millimeters in Lomagne, that’s nothing. The large water reserves that are the lakes are only 50% full, which is very worrying for this summer.

Jean-Luc Deprince is well placed to talk about it: in charge of roads at the departmental council, he mobilized the department’s road service teams for a good part of Thursday in Saint-Nauphary to clean the streets and treat the mud-clogged ditches. During this period, the southwest of the department remained almost dry. “In ten days we had just twenty millimeters in Lomagne, it’s nothing. The large water reserves that are the lakes are only 50% filled, it’s very worrying for this summer. When you see that we have to water the garlic … and not everyone can water yet. We have to fear significant crop losses for garlic producers if it doesn’t rain.”

The mayor of Beaumont gives the example of Maine-et-Loire, a department of orchards and vineyards like Tarn-et-Garonne, where the prefect has banned anti-hail cannons for several years.

Me, I’ve seen hail cannons filled with hail before, so their effectiveness… We don’t have any serious data or studies on this material.

But at least these famous cannons are effective? “There are believers and non-believers on this question. In the ten years of presidency of the FDSEA there have always been pros and cons,” acknowledges Alain Iches, president of the Chamber of Agriculture. “I have seen hail cannons filled with hail before, hence their effectiveness… We have no data or serious studies on this material. We, in the House, do not preach for the cannon. The vast majority of arborists prefer to install nets to protect their trees from hail,” recalls Alain Iches.

Jean-Luc Deprince confirms: “The orchards of the Tarn-et-Garonne are covered by 80 or 90% with nets. There are subsidies to install them”. Beaumont’s elected official “fears a war over water this summer.” He calls for solidarity between the agricultural sectors … and deplores “the silence of environmentalists on the use of anti-hail cannons”.

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