Malta’s foremost agricultural expert blames the unfavourable spring weather for the fact that popular summer fruit (like plums and peaches) are in shorter supply than the norm this year. Malcolm Borg, who heads Mcast’s Centre for Agriculture told Times of Malta that farmers across the island had reported relatively low yields of local summer fruit this year, to their disappointment.
Borg chalked it up to a spell of gusty and rainy weather towards the end of spring that hampered production. “Trees that produce summer fruit depend heavily on the spring weather. This year we had a windy spring and, in particular, saw some spells of red rain – laden with soil and desert sand – which stripped fruit trees of their blossoming flowers. This hindered pollination and as a result, noticeably impacted the summer fruit production,” he said.
Among the most impacted fruit by this phenomenon, were the small Maltese June pear, known locally as bambinella, and a host of stone fruits such as the cherry plum, peaches and nectarines, which are all being picked and sold now.
Borg reckoned it was still too early to have statistical data on how badly the inclement spring weather had impacted the summer harvest. However, farmers across the countryside had started to complain about the phenomenon.
Farmer Alfred Vella pointed to his Mġarr trees and said he had very little summer fruit to speak of this year: “As a farmer, you know that some years are good and some are bad. This year we had that bad weather in April and May. Well, it hasn’t been a good year for my plums.”
Farmers have already had to deal with the damage caused by a freak devastating storm in February which wreaked havoc on farms across the island. However, the wet winter weather this year, which came after three consecutive dry years, had been beneficial for other crops, such as wheat and some types of olive trees.
“Indeed, farming is a mixed bag,” Mr Borg told timesofmalta.com.