Most of the damage was in the Negev, especially to potato crops, and losses to the farmers in the region are estimated at about NIS 10 million.
Beyond the immediate damage, there are long-term consequences in light of the large amount of crops involved. Therefore, the final amount of damages due to the cold wave will only be determined later on. But for farmers the damage done is very serious.
Yitzhak Abutbul, owner of Ahu Limited, and a member of the leadership of Moshavei HaNegev an agricultural company that groups 34 moshavim, reports that 20 percent of the potatoes in the area were completely destroyed, and that in 30 percent of the fields half of the produce was destroyed.
"Saturday night there was a significant cold spell, as well as Tuesday morning which delivered another severe blow," said Abutbul. The cold weather hit the potatoes when they were at 60 percent of their size and this has great significance. If this had happened a month from now the damage would have been smaller since the larger the potato the less it is affected by cold weather. Now the damage is long-term as even those that will be produced a month from now will be smaller than usual."
Gidi David, CEO of Gidulei Sade, a partnership between kibbutz Kramim and kibbutz Lahav which cultivate 25 thousand dunams in the eastern Negev said that "between Saturday and Sunday the temperature was measured at lower than zero celcius in some areas. As a result, the fields were filled with frost which hangs on the plant that has already been damaged by the cold and worsens the damage. After a while, the plant turns black."
David said that thousands of dunams in the Negev had been affected and that the damage is massive. "It adds to the difficulty that existed anyway in the sector last year, as a result of Russia's economic crisis, which was a main export destination," he explained.
Nadav Peleg, director of Gidulei Hasadeh in kibbutz Shoval , estimated that the damage depends on the market price of potatoes at a given time. "The profit per acre of potatoes today is about NIS 1,500. We have 340 dunams, meaning a loss of NIS 500,000. It's a big mess," said Peleg.
Nevertheless, he sought to reassure by saying that "we're not built so that such damage will devastate us. It's not pleasant, it hurts, but it is not the first natural damage we have experienced. After many years in the agricultural sector, we lick our wounds and move on. Those who can not tolerate these type of losses, cannot work in this field," he concluded.