Germany: Below average harvest of vegetables

Supermarket vegetable counters do not really show it, but harvested quantities of tomatoes, carrots, salad and such were below the long-term averages almost across the board. This is reported by the Landvolk-Pressedienst, referring to data from the Federal Committee for Fruit and Vegetables (BOG). In the spring it was clearly too cold, and there were hardly any bees active. In addition to all this, there were regional nightly frosts, which caused up to 80 percent crop failure on some farms. In the summer, continuous rain fell across Lower Saxony, making harvesting difficult and damaging sensitive crops. 

The low yield expectations were followed by price increases for some products, to support the farmers. The demand and pricing of asparagus remained stable throughout the season. Special crops are more sensitive to weather extremes than traditional crops such as grain or swedes. Farmers therefore apply various protective measures and use antifreeze irrigation systems to protect their crops. But above all, they rely on diversification: if one crop fails, the others have to make a profit.

Cabbages, however, benefited from the 2017 weather; yields are average or even higher than normal. The downside of the good harvest is already apparent: prices for cabbages, and also for onions and carrots are dropping. However, the BOG also notes that the trend of declining consumption of fruits and vegetables seems to be reversing. The volumes purchased increased in 2017. 

Last year, Germans spent 1.39 billion euros on tomatoes and 1.12 billion euros on apples. For seasonal goods such as asparagus and strawberries, customers are particularly attentive to regionality. 60 percent of strawberries purchased are German-grown, while for asparagus this number is even higher, at 80 percent.

According to information from the State Statistical Office, in 2015 in Lower Saxony 18,279 hectares of vegetables were cultivated in the field and 75 hectares had crops under protective covers or in the greenhouse. The Weser-Ems region is particularly productive regarding vegetable farming. Here you will find are only 176 of the 1,073 farms of Lower Saxony, but they produce 42 percent of all Lower Saxony vegetables. 2,021 hectares of the nation's 2,820 hectares of cabbage are concentrated in this region. For 2016, the Federal Statistical Office has calculated a vegetable acreage of 120,930 hectares and 6,379 farms nationwide in this line of business.

Source: Landvolk Niedersachsen

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