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Apples and berries leaders in fruit cultivation

The Lower Elbe, along with the Alten Land area, is well-known for being the largest contiguous fruit growing area in Northern Europe. However, few consumers know that the Vechta region is not only an important processing location, but it is also Germany's foremost strawberry cultivation area. This is one of the conclusions of an analysis of the development of fruit cultivation in Germany in the period 2005 to 2017, which was presented by the Brunswick Thünen Institute for Business Administration (TI).

It provides an overview of fruit types, farm structuring and trade routes, as well as the development of crops, areas under cultivation and regional cultivation priorities, according to the Landvolk press service. In 2017, nearly 11,000 businesses in Germany grew fruit on approximately 76,000 hectares (ha). Of this amount, 49,934 ha are planted with fruit, apples, pears, sweet and sour cherries, plums, plums and mirabelles, 18,649 ha with strawberries and over 6,800 ha with shrubberries. These include currants, blueberries and raspberries, blackberries, black elderberries and, more recently, Aronia berries.

Some 1,140 fruit farms in Lower Saxony are working 15,160 ha of land. This corresponds to almost 20 percent of the total German fruit acreage. The Lower Saxony fruit farms cultivate an average of 13.3 hectares and thus they are twice as large as the average farm nationwide. Three key areas are characteristic for Lower Saxony fruit cultivation: Apple cultivation is on first place in Lower Saxony as it is in Germany as a whole. The top position is occupied by the Niederelbe region. In the district of Stade alone, apples accounted for more than 7,000 hectares of land on an acreage of 8,139 ha in 2017, which means that every fifth German apple comes from this region.

Apple orchards are also dominating in the districts of Cuxhaven and Harburg. The Weser-Ems region, on the other hand, is growing more strawberries: In the Vechta district, 27 farms cultivate 1,726 ha of strawberries, which is the largest acreage in Germany. The acreage of field strawberries is decreasing in Lower Saxony as elsewhere. On the other hand, protected cultivation of strawberries, in tunnels, is increasing. In 2012, there were 33 farms that had 42 ha of strawberries in protected cultivation, bu in 2017 there were already 53 farms, with 124 ha. The main reason for this development are rising labor costs, which are much higher for the labor-intensive field crops.

The rural districts Diepholz and Nienburg as well as the Heidekreis are considered the homes of the blueberry. Lower Saxony has the largest acreage of blueberries, with 1,814 hectares. All across Germany, its acreage nearly doubled between 2006 and 2017, to 2,844 ha. At the same time, demand increased due to an increase of the per capita blueberry consumption, from 1.7 to 2.4 kilograms.

Source: Landvolk Niedersachsen

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