Hail storms in the Rhône area in France have caused significant damage to apricots. This is according to Theo Kampschoer of Kampexport. This company has a branch in La Grande Motte, France.
"We had a lot of bad weather about ten days ago. I heard of a walnut farmer in the area who had thousands of his trees blown over. They were thick, 40-year-old trees," Theo says.
"You should see what is happening with the apricots. In the Rhône valley, you can write off 30-40% of the apricot harvest. And that is a large area. About half of the Bergeron apricots are grown there."
According to Theo, the damage once again proves that growers must have hail nets. "Now, less than 10% of French growers have hail nets. There are, however, farmers who have already suffered massive damage for three years in a row."
"Growers with hail nets have considerably less damage. However, it does require an investment that not everyone can afford. This expense is why many farmers try to use subsidies to buy nets," he says.
Since the storm, it has become very hot in Southern France. "Last Friday, it was 50 degrees in the full sun. A lot of grapes were scorched where they stood, in the vineyards. I expect the hot weather will affect fruit production," continues Theo. "The nets could also be beneficial against the heat."
"Fortunately, there is a high demand for good quality apricots. We are now at the end of the Orange Red apricot season. This is a fantastic variety. If you have them, you cannot sell any other apricots anymore. But, the Bergeval and Bergeron are also good varieties."
Theo says Spanish farmers provided the necessary competition, especially at the start of the season. "They just send their product on receipt. We had a lot of trouble with this at the beginning of the season. Luckily, they cannot provide all the varieties."
"They also have problems with people sending their products too early. Then the apricots are the correct color, but they are not ripe enough yet. Incredibly stupid, of course, because then you ruin your own market," he goes on to say.
"Fortunately, the demand is very broad. Germany and Belgium participate well. There are also more and more people eating apricots in the Netherlands too. Spanish apricots sell for EUR1,50 per kg."
"Despite this, many clients prefer our French apricots. Even though these are sometimes twice as expensive. Luckily, good prices are paid for the good quality varieties," the experienced exporter concludes.