Suzuki fly halves French cherry harvest

French cherry growers are panicking. Asian Suzuki flies, no larger than 4mm, are attacking their cherries. Hundreds of tons have already been destroyed.

French farmers are crushing their cherries. The white larvae of these Suzuki flies then emerge from the pulp. These have hatched from eggs the flies laid in the cherry blossoms. The larvae pulverise the fruit from the inside. Squeeze the fruit, and cherry juice sprays out. Entirely unsuitable to sell or for consumption.

"I have never experienced something so bad before", says one grower. "Half my harvest is gone. It seems the pesticides did not work as well this year. This is because the fruit was sprayed just before a spell of hard rain. The rain not only weakened the blossoms. It also washed away some of the pesticides."

The failed harvest also does not mean less work for the processing companies. In fact, it is more work. Extra personnel has to sort the good cherries from the bad.

Good Flemish harvest
"This year's harvest in Flanders was not affected by these Suzuki flies", says grower, Kris Jans. He farms in the Belgian region of Borgloon. "We have a well-devised monitoring system. This allows us to take very focused preventative action that involves treating with pesticides. This action is taken along with the Fruit Testing Centre."

Flanders produces about 1.400 tonnes of cherries annually. "All for local consumption. We pick in the morning, and by the next afternoon the cherries are already in the shop shelves", he says.


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