Bitter harvest for Czech fruit growers
This year’s fruit harvest is expected to see a year-on-year drop by 28 percent, due to the late frosts which hit the Czech Republic at the end of April. The country’s Fruit Growers Union estimates losses of around 400 million crowns.
“Prices in the Czech Republic are affected mainly by the European market. If the prices go up, it is not because of a lower harvest in the Czech Republic, but because of the situation in other countries,” Martin Ludvik, head of the Fruit Growers Union, told the daily e15.
The most severe damage was reported in southern Moravia, which saw temperatures dropping to five degrees below zero in the last weeks of April. Damagers are also reported from warmer regions of Bohemia, where stone fruits and apple trees were in bloom at the time of the frosts. The apricot harvest will be the most severely hit, with the year-on-year drop estimated at 68 percent to a mere 709 tonnes. The country’s peach harvest is expected to drop by 67 percent to 421 tones.
The harvest of apples, the main fruit commodity on the Czech market, went down by 27 percent to some 113,000 tonnes. The harvest of plums, currants and sour cherries is also expected to see a year-on-year slump.
Frosts have also taken their toll on the strawberry harvest, which is expected to fall by 30 percent to some 2,300 tonnes. The only fruit not to be hit by the late frosts are cherries, because they are not grown in the areas affected.
This year’s harvest may also be affected by severe hail storms which hit the central, eastern and north Bohemia at the end of May and the beginning of June.
According to the Fruit Growers Union, fruit growing has not been paying off in the long term. Besides the Russian embargo in 2014, fruit farmers have also been affected by lower than average harvests between 2010 and 2012. Many farmers have closed down their business in recent years or cut down on the amount of fruit grown.
In 2014, the area of orchards in the Czech Republic dropped by 14 percent. At the moment, there are over 15,000 hectares of orchards in the country.