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Tree fruit harvest 2021: significant losses for cherries, slight decline for pears

Late frosts, heavy rain and storms have dashed the hopes of German tree fruit businesses for at least an average cherry harvest in many places. As reported by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), following final estimates as of the reporting date of August 20, 2021, a total of 38,400 tons of cherries were harvested in 2021. This represents a 23.2% reduction in the cherry harvest compared with the previous year's figure of 50,000 tons and a 19.9% reduction compared with the ten-year average for 2011 to 2020 (47,900 tons). Initial preliminary estimates as of June 10, 2021, still assumed a much more moderate decline of 4.4% compared to the ten-year average.

Significant drop in sweet cherry harvest only became apparent late in the year
According to the final estimate as of August 20, 2021, the sweet cherry harvest in 2021 totaled 27,300 metric tons, significantly below the value of the preliminary estimate of June 10, 2021. Compared to the ten-year average of 32,700 metric tons, this represents a drop of 16.4%. The most important German state in terms of sweet cherry cultivation is Baden-Württemberg. With an estimated harvest volume of 12,500 tons, 45.8% of German sweet cherries were produced in this state.

In contrast to the sweet cherries, a low sour cherry crop became apparent early on. The final estimate as of August 20, 2021 of the crop size of 11,000 tons differed only slightly from preliminary estimates in June and July. Regionally, the focus of sour cherry production was in Rhineland-Palatinate, which produced 4,700 metric tons, or 42.8% of the German crop.

In general, late frosts and unfavorable weather conditions caused crop losses in many places, especially for sweet cherries. Because of their earlier start to vegetation, they are particularly sensitive to weather influences during the blossoming and ripening period, bursting or rotting. In contrast to sour cherries, which are often processed into juice, preserves, frozen goods and other products, weather-related quality losses are very damaging for sweet cherries due to their predominant direct marketing. Harvest estimates for sweet cherries are therefore subject to greater weather-related uncertainties than for sour cherries.

Slightly below-average pear harvest expected
This year's pear crop was estimated for the first time as of August 20, 2021. The expected crop of 38,700 tons is 1.4% below last year's 39,300 tons and 2.1% below the ten-year average of 39,600 tons. The largest share of the pear crop nationwide is growing in Baden-Württemberg, where 16,000 tons are expected.

Methodological note:
For harvest estimates of the most important tree fruit species, farm reporters report expected or achieved harvest volumes and yields per hectare of apples, pears, plums/twetches, mirabelles/raisins, and sweet and sour cherries at different reporting dates. There may well be significant changes between the estimates in June, July, August and November due to weather conditions, diseases or pests, for example. The final estimate of the cherry crop is made in August, and the final estimate of the pear crop is made in November.

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