Czech Republic Expects a 24% Drop in Fruit Harvest, Lowest in Six Years

The Czech Republic is bracing itself for a significant decline in fruit harvest this year, with estimates suggesting a decrease of 24% compared to the previous year, amounting to a below-average yield of 125,157 tons. This anticipated harvest would be the lowest recorded in the past six years, dating back to 2017. Furthermore, when compared to the average harvest of the preceding five years, this year’s yield is expected to be 16% lower. The decline in production is primarily attributed to adverse weather conditions and a reduction in orchard areas.

According to the Central Control and Testing Institute of Agriculture (ÚKZÚZ), the main cause for concern is the projected year-on-year drop in apricot yield, which is estimated to plummet by 74% to a meager 449 tons. Frost has severely affected apricot crops, while other fruit varieties have experienced less favorable weather during the crucial spring bloom. This has resulted in reduced flowering compared to the previous year, compounded by the fact that the previous year’s harvest was well above average.

The decline in fruit orchard areas has also contributed to the expected decrease in harvest. The chairman of the Czech Fruit Growers Union, Martin Ludvík, notes that orchard areas have diminished by a substantial 8.3% to 11,214 hectares compared to the previous year. This reduction equates to the loss of approximately one million trees and shrubs. Orchardists have been compelled to cut down trees due to persistently low fruit purchase prices and prolonged cultivation losses.

The primary fruit species, apples, are predicted to witness a significant 26% year-on-year decline, amounting to 102,652 tons. When compared to the average harvest of the previous five years, this represents a 16% decrease. Orchards cultivating apple trees have faced a reduction of 11% in their areas over the winter, shrinking to 5,236 hectares. This downsizing is estimated to result in a loss of approximately 10,000 tons of apple harvest. Last year, the Czech Republic produced over 138,000 tons of apples.

Plums, cherries, peaches, currants, raspberries, and blackberries are among the other fruits expected to experience lower yields this year compared to the previous year. Plum harvest is predicted to decrease by 37% to 6,466 tons. However, there is some positive news amidst the gloom, as both pear and cherry harvests are expected to increase by 18% year-on-year, reaching 8,734 tons and 1,756 tons, respectively.

Ivana Kršková, spokesperson for ÚKZÚZ, highlights regional variations in pear yields, with a notable drop in fruit buds in Bohemia during early June, whereas Moravia is likely to achieve the highest pear harvest. Kršková also remarks that stone fruits, in general, have suffered due to cold and rainy spring weather. However, she notes that certain small localities growing apricots have managed to avoid significant damage from frost, thanks to the appropriate combination of variety and exposure.

The decline in the Czech Republic’s fruit harvest this year is a matter of concern for both farmers and consumers. Fruit growers will face economic challenges due to reduced revenue, while consumers may experience higher prices and potential shortages.

Article by Prague Forum

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