The production of cherries, peaches and apricots at the lowest

Late frost and hail episodes affect crops throughout Europe.

Europe’s cherry, peach and apricot orchards will break records this year… of unproductiveness. Unheard of in thirty years and even more. For the cherry, “It would be about the production (and performance, Editor’s note) the weakest for at least forty-six years “, details a note from Agreste, in charge of studies and forecasting for the Ministry of Agriculture.

In terms of quantity, the situation is so bad that for burlats and other hearts-of-pigeon, the professionals speak of a “Half-harvest”. A situation which automatically leads to an increase in harvesting costs and therefore prices. “Last week, the average price observed in trays was 11.76 euros per kilo, against 6 to 7 euros for the same period in 2019”, explains Alexandra Lacoste, of the Association for the Organization of Cherry Producers (PDO).

Good start to the season for melon

The main causes of this scarcity situation are frost and hail, which belatedly burned and destroyed the first shoots at the end of winter. “No country, no production area (European) is not spared. With 2021 and 2020, we have consecutively among the two lowest harvests of peaches and nectarines in recent decades ”, details Éric Hostalnou, head of the fruit and vegetable department at the Pyrenees-Orientales chamber of agriculture, in a study established for the Medfel, a trade fair organized by the Occitanie region.

The same is true for apricot volumes, with a fall in French production (- 42%) even more marked than in the rest of Europe. “The 2021 harvest forecast is just approaching 50,000 tonnes, well below the historically weak years of 2020, 2008, 2001 or 1998. After a year 2020 with a deficit in volumes and previous years which were very complicated in terms of market and remuneration of producers, the apricot sector has suffered another hard blow this year “, notes Éric Hostalnou.

Here again, the consequence of these poor harvests is reflected in higher prices on the stalls. At Casino, for example, we find the French apricot at a minimum price of 3.99 euros, up more than 30% compared to 2019. A spectacular increase in percentage that should however be tempered since, with barely 3 to 4 kilos consumed per household each year, this surge will have little impact on wallets.

In this context, one of the winning fruits of the summer could well be the melon. Planted every year, which gives more flexibility to producers who sometimes rotate their crops, it has a stable planting area (+ 2%) in France. Although particularly sensitive to weather variations, this cucurbit is having a good start to the season. At the time of the first harvests, the sun and the heat, guarantees of good sugar content, have indeed settled in the South-East as in the South-West.

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