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Germany: Landkreis Stade - a Mecca for apple productionThe district of Stade remains the Mecca of fruit cultivation in Lower Saxony. The county bordering the metropolitan region of Hamburg has the most fruit farms in Lower Saxony.
According to the Landvolk Press Service, the 2017 tree survey for the Niederelberegion showed there to be 565 fruit farms. 404 of these farms are located in the district of Stade, 105 in Hamburg and 30 and 26 respectively in the districts of Cuxhaven and Harburg. Compared to the previous survey in 2012, the number of farms has decreased by 120, compared to 1992, more than 1,000 fruit growers left the sector, but the decline has slowed somewhat.
In contrast, the cultivated area remained almost constant over the entire period. It stood at 10,235 ha in 1992, fell to a low of 8,211 ha in 2002 and has since then gradually increased to 10,063 ha. An average fruit farm now has more than 20 hectares. 69 fruit farms operate on 1,456 ha according to ecological criteria; their share is quite high compared to agriculture with 14%. More than 20 million fruit trees make the Niederelbe the largest contiguous fruit growing area in Northern Europe.
The trend towards apple cultivation is clearly recognizable in the data from this special survey. Thus, the sour cherry, grown in 1992 on only 6.9 percent of the total area, has almost completely disappeared on the Lower Elbe. The proceeds did not satisfy the fruit growers. Instead, more apple trees were planted. The pome fruit now accounts for almost 90 percent of the fruit acreage and is rightly regarded as a "breadfruit" for the old-growth fruit farmers. The growers have, according to the wishes of consumers, also expanded the slightly sour, strongly colored varieties such as Elstar or -from the Jonagold group- the Jonagored, Jonagold, Red Prince or Jonaprince. Every third apple tree bears Elstars, one in four trees is of the Jonagold variety. Braeburn has also established itself on the lower Elbe, while the traditional varieties such as the Gloster, Cox Orange, Ingrid Marie or Golden Delicious each have only shares of less than 0.5 percent. But the new, so-called club varieties, with apples named Kanzi, Rubens or Junami, which are also grown in small proportions, are offering the fruit growers a high added value.
Publication date: 1/29/2018
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