This year's strawberry production in Hungary promises to be average, with producers expecting to harvest 10-12 thousand tons from approximately 700 hectares, said the professional director of the Hungarian Fruit and Vegetable Interprofessional Organization and Product Council (FruitVeB), István Hunyadi.
Hunyadi said that due to the mild autumn and winter, the plantations were not affected by winter frosts, and the sunny February and March were very favorable for the development of the plants. Strawberries are a fully irrigated crop, so their development was not negatively affected by the dry weather in spring. About 20-30 percent of the flowers of open ground plants were hit by frost, although no drastic crop losses are expected, based on the frost damage in the spring so far.
Strawberries are the earliest ripening fruit grown in Hungary. They are available to consumers from the beginning of April. The domestic season lasts from the beginning of May to the middle of June.
The professional director said that producer prices have so far remained in line with those of the same period in previous years. The consumer price of domestically grown strawberries in April ranged between 2,000 and 4,000 HUF per kilo (5.67 to 11.34 Euro), because the fruit comes from greenhouse farms, which entails much higher production costs. Spanish and Greek strawberries are much cheaper on the market during this period, but due to the epidemic situation, they are available in more moderate quantities than in previous years.
According to his information, in Hungary, out of a production area of around 700 hectares, about 40 percent is grown in the open ground and the other 60 percent under some form of cover.
The domestic acreage increased from 500 hectares to 800 hectares between 2008 and 2015; however, in recent years, the country has observed a continuous and small annual decrease in the acreage. There are several factors behind the decline, but the lack of labor and the strong price competition forced by cheap, imported products have contributed significantly to these processes.
Strawberries are one of the most capital- and labor-intensive fruit species. Under open ground conditions, the annual production cost per hectare can reach HUF 5-10 million (between 14,169.63 and 28,332.59 Euro), depending on the production method and technology.