The peach and nectarine harvest forecasts for the four main growing countries Greece, Spain, Italy and France were presented yesterday during the third and final medFEL webinar.
Already suffering from a crop shortage, the 2020 European harvest is expected to be the smallest in the last 30 years. 2020 was marked by the COVID crisis and a yield deficit of almost 2.3 million tonnes of peaches, flat peaches and nectarines; 750,000 tonnes compared to 850,000 tonnes in 2019 for pavia (yellow peaches), i.e. a total of just over 3 million tonnes.
In 2021, no growing area is spared by the production shortfall, with just under 1.9 million tonnes of peaches, flat peaches and nectarines expected, which is 15% less than in 2019 and 36% less than the 2015/2019 average. Pavia crops are also down by 544,000 tonnes, which is -27% compared to 2020 and -28% compared to the average of the last five years. In total, the European harvest in 2021 is expected to be 2.4 million tonnes.
With a total of 690,000 tonnes for 2020 (185,000 tonnes of peaches, 105,000 tonnes of nectarines and 400,000 tonnes of pavia), the forecast for 2021 is 360,000 tonnes. 110,000 tonnes of peaches, i.e. half the volume of a normal year, and 50,000 tonnes of nectarines, compared with 120,000 to 130,000 tonnes in a normal year. This is a decrease of 45% compared to last year and 47% compared to the 2015/2019 average. Pavia are projected to harvest 200,000 tonnes this year, down 50% on 2020 and 46% on the 2015/2019 average.
The 2020 season was already characterised by poor weather conditions (frost and rain) with a yield of 180,000 tonnes (including pavia), i.e. 11% less than in 2019, but the 2021 season suffered even more, particularly due to the frosts of early April. The Rhone Valley was the worst affected area with temperatures down to -7°C, as well as the PACA region and Languedoc Roussillon. The forecast for 2021 is 115,000 tonnes, down 34% on 2020 and 42% on the 2015/2019 average.
In 2020, the frosts of late March and early April affected the crop. The northern regions of Italy were particularly affected, as well as the central-southern regions along the Adriatic coast. The result was a historically low Italian harvest in 2020 with just over 750,000 tonnes of peaches and nectarines, i.e. -35% compared to 2019, with a particularly pronounced deficit in Emilia-Romagna with almost 75% losses. This year it is once again the frost that has affected all cultivation areas, from north to south. The harvest forecast is even lower at 667,000 tonnes, which is 11% lower than in 2020, which was already a very bad year, and 45% lower than the 2015/2019 average. The difference with 2020 seems limited, but it should not be forgotten that 2020 was already a record year in terms of small harvests in Italy.
In 2020, the harvest in Spain was just over 1,000,000 tonnes of peaches, flat peaches and nectarines, which is 18% lower than in 2019. Most growing areas were affected by frost and hail. The Spanish harvest is expected to fall in 2021 due to frost damage. This shortfall is due to a general decline in all growing areas and is expected to reach almost 930,000 tonnes of round peaches, flat peaches and nectarines, which is 7% less than in 2020 and 25% less than the 2015/2019 average. Pavia are expected to yield around 285,000 tonnes, 3% less than in 2021 and 4% less than the 2015/2019 average. The frost in the second half of March affected more than 16,000 hectares of peaches in Spain, including 6,000 hectares in Aragon, 5,000 hectares in Catalonia and 3,000 hectares in the Murcia region, with losses of up to 100% in some plots, according to ENESA (Entidad Nacional de Seguros Agrarios).
The 2021 season therefore seems very low compared to the harvest potential and to previous years. However, we will have to remain vigilant for further developments and calendars, but it is certain that there will be a shortage of supply this year.
A webinar led by Eric Hostalnou, head of the fruit and vegetable department of the Chamber of Agriculture of Pyrénées-Orientales, with Javier Basols, Federation of Spanish Cooperatives, Manel Simon, Afrucat, Catalonia, Elisa Macchi, director of the CSO (Italy), Georges Kantzios, Asepop Cooperative (Greece (Macedonia)) and finally Bruno Darnaud, PDO peaches and apricots from France.