This year's weather conditions will have a significant impact on fruit harvests. Spring frosts and prolonged drought have significantly reduced yields on many plantations, says Karolina Załuska, agri-food sector analyst at the BNP Paribas bank.
“We estimate that this year's fruit harvest will be about 30 percent lower than in the previous year. Cherry harvest decreased the most - according to the Central Statistical Office, by 30 percent compared to last year. A significant decrease in yields concerns apples and pears,” says Załuska.
“In addition, this year we are dealing with generally poorer fruit quality,” she adds.
The weather has also had an impact on the level of berry fruit production. The largest decrease in production was recorded for raspberries and blackcurrants. According to the estimates, raspberry yields will be over 35% lower. Blackcurrant harvests are estimated to be 28% less than in 2018.
“As a result, we have seen high buying prices for all fruit this season. Thus the prices of apples and pears will also be significantly higher. This applies to the fresh fruit market, but also to fruit intended for processing, which will undoubtedly translate into an increase in wholesale and retail prices,” says Załuska.
At the initiative of the Fruit Union Association, experts advise how apple producers can prepare for rapid climate change and more extreme weather conditions.
Warmer, humid air from autumn to spring can increase the risk of fungal diseases in apple trees. It significantly reduces yields and fruit quality, and significantly weakens them. Affected fruits of winter apple varieties will store less well.
Climate warming is also conducive to the emergence of new species of pests that until now, used to occur in subtropical and tropical climate zones.
Studies have also shown that warmer temperatures mean changes in the taste and texture of apples. Climate change causes lower acidity and firmness of fruits, while increasing sugar concentration. Too high temperatures, especially at night during ripening of trees, will make apples too sweet.
Some of the effects of climate change, such as water scarcity, will be felt widely in all branches of agriculture. For apple trees, these changes will include the effects of higher temperatures on flowering, yields and fruit quality. Low snowfall in winter already causes water shortages in the summer season. In Poland, the biggest threat is the lack of sufficient water resources for irrigation, which is propagated on a large scale for example in Spain.
"We are witnessing changing conditions for fruit and vegetable production in Poland, in Europe and around the world. The challenges that await the entire agri-food market, as well as best ways to adapt production to them, are the most pressing issues," Arkadiusz Gaik, president of the Fruit Union Association, says.