The 28 countries of the European Union are expecting an apple harvest of 12,611,000 tons this year. This is 36% more than the last year's harvest of 9,251,000 and 13% more than the average of the past three years. These figures were announced on Thursday 9 August at the Prognosfruit Congress in the Polish capital Warsaw.
The harvest estimated for 2018 is the largest of the past ten years and is of similar size as the 2014 and 2015 harvests. The large Polish harvest of 4,480,000 tonnes in particular will have a major impact on the total European harvest. The expected Polish apple harvest is 56% larger than that of 2017 and 23% larger than the average of the past three years.
The Italian apple harvest is expected to increase by 29% to 2.2 million tonnes. France expects a 5% increase (1.5 million tonnes), while the German apple harvest is expected to be just under 1 million tonnes (+ 66%). Spain expects a lower volume with 473,000 tons less than last year. Only Spain, Portugal and Latvia expect lower volumes than last year.
The apple harvest in the Netherlands is estimated at 259,000 tonnes, 14% more than last year, but 12% lower than the three-year average. Belgium expects a 147% higher apple harvest with 217,000 tons of apples, but that is easily explained after the huge frost damage last year. Also in Austria, the apple harvest with an expected yield of 184,000 tonnes is a lot higher (+ 175%).
Golden Delicious remains by far the largest variety with an estimated production of 2,347,000 tons. The harvest of this variety is estimated 23% higher than last year and 3% higher than the average for 2015-2017. Furthermore, Gala plantings will increase by 15% to 1.46 million tonnes. The production of Jonagold (including Jonagored and Red Jonaprince) is estimated at 1084,000 tons. This is 71% more than last year and 12% more than the average for 2015-2017. The higher production compared to last year is mainly because Poland has started producing much more. The Boskoop harvest (Goudreinet) is estimated at 63,000 tonnes: 86% higher than last year.
The estimated production of Elstar is 335,000 tons. That is 26% more than last year and 4% less than the average production in the period 2015-2017. This is mainly due to higher Elstar production in the Netherlands and Germany. Production in Germany is 36% higher than last year, compared to 12% in the Netherlands. The Netherlands accounts for over 30% of European Elstar production this year.
NFO emphasizes that the estimates are for much less, but due to the drought it may be slightly lower still. The volume of apples suitable for fresh consumption is estimated to be slightly lower than average. Due to the drought a higher percentage of the product will end up in the processing industry. There is also a clean market and due to the early harvest the sales season is longer. China - the largest apple producer in the world - expects a 30% lower production than last year. This probably offers opportunities for exports from EU countries to markets that are otherwise served by China.
The European pear harvest is estimated to be 4% higher at 2.33 million tonnes, an increase of 4% compared to last year and 3% more than the average for the past three years. Italy, the largest pear producer in the EU expects a harvest of 741,000 tonnes, comparable to last year.
The estimate of Conference is 953,000 tons 9% higher than the production in 2017; that of Doyenné du Comice is at 74,000 tons, 26% higher than last year's production. The estimate of Abate Fetel at 333,000 tons is almost comparable to last year's production.
The Netherlands and Belgium account for approximately 65% of EU Conference production. There is serious drought in these countries, which means that the final production of Conference may be lower.