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Wilfried Plüschau, Marktgemeinschaft Altes Land

"Ideally, apples will keep for 10 months in the warehouse and 14 days at the consumer's"

The adverse weather conditions of the past two top fruit seasons have created mixed results for producer cooperatives in Germany. Producers of the market community Altes Land benefited from good irrigation possibilities. Managing Director Wilfried Plüschau takes stock: "We have a little more apples this year than in the below-average last year, but it is not a record harvest, only a normal yield." 90% of the acreage of our growers works with one form of irrigation or the other. For us, the weather usually is not as determining a factor as for other growers."

Cultivation of the Wellant variety

Berry-fruit cultivation often involves preventive and protective measures, and more and more people decide in favor of covered cultivation, most often with tunnels. "Regarding cherries, many new plants are now protected. The plants are covered when they are flowering and the covers are removed after harvesting, which is advantageous because cherries are extremely sensitive regarding rain." The protected cultivation ensures a uniform availability and delivery. "I do not think we'll be cultivating any more cherries in the field in five years' time. There you need more pesticides and the shelf life is worse: elements that retailers no longer want."

With a focus on other measures, the selection of varieties has a lower significance with regard to the climate. Breeding an apple tree that can adapt better to the adverse weather conditions of recent years is difficult, says Plüschau. Because of the good irrigation possibilities in the area, for example, tree health is a major factor.

The market community also holds out the prospect of proprietary breeding. "However, a new breed must ultimately be better than any varieties already on the market and it needs to be successful, so you have to experiment a lot and run trial plants to see how the plant behaves in cultivation with taste and durability - these are completely different criteria from those before."

The main features of the Plüschau and the M.AL. on the one hand, is durability in storage as well as at the consumer's,. Then there are tree health and marketability, both  important in the selection of varieties. "It is no use having an apple I can only sell for two months. Ideally, apples will keep for 10 months in the warehouse and 14 days at the consumer's" without losing any of its taste."

The Marktgemeinschaft Altes Land is an association of 150 producers, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2019. The growers produce about 80-100,000 tons of top fruit on 2,400 hectares, as well as 6,000 tons of strawberries and sweet cherries per year. Last year, the company inaugurated a new sorting plant, where the goods from the region are processed for trade. The fruits find their way through wholesalers from Jork to well-known retail chains in Germany and neighboring countries. In 2019 and 2020, construction projects are planned to increase the storage capacity of the M.AL. to expand by another 13,000 tons.

Club varieties Junami (left) and Wellant (right)

At the upcoming Fruit Logistica, the market community Altes Land will again present its varieties Junami and Wellant. "These are, after all, our most reliable varieties, as they have good productivity for the producer and are only available in limited quantities." Otherwise, the M.AL. also has classic varieties such as Elstar, Braeburn, Gala and many others in its assortment.

Visit Marktgemeinschaft Altes Land at Fruit Logistica: 6-8 February in Berlin, hall 20, booth A08.

For more information:
Wilfried Plüschau
Marktgemeinschaft Altes Land
Erzeugerorganisation für Obst GmbH
Neuenfelder Str. 16a
21635 Jork
Telefon: +49 (0) 41 62 / 94 44 - 0 

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