Similar to the apricot country of Austria, apricots have also been diligently harvested in Germany for a good week. "After two years of total failures due to frost, we are finally pleased this year, seeing a great yield of probably 80 percent. The quality of the early apricots is also excellent," Matthias Kiefer from Kiefer Obstwelt Ltd, based in Ortenaukreis, explained to us.
Matthias Kiefer shows the first apricots of this year's season.
The first phase of this year's season is already drawing to a close, according to Kiefer. "All fruit crops are ready for harvest exceptionally early this year, thus also our specialty crops apricots and peaches. We are now nearing the end of the early variety Toyesie and will then seamlessly start harvesting the market standard Ladycot and Vertige. Finishing is typically done by mid-to-late July."
A few years ago, Kiefer was one of the first to try its hand at growing apricots, and now the number of growers in the Ortenau region, and thus the area under cultivation, is steadily increasing. "In 2019, we were able to harvest the first little fruit on about one hectare, and in the meantime we have expanded our area to about three hectares." Kiefer is also a member of the international Fairfruit Group with cultivation projects in several European countries, including Germany.
High profitability and revenues
In his own nursery, Kiefer is also involved in propagating seedlings, which is why he also acts as a supplier to the industry. "I observe great interest on the producer side, not least because you get good money for the product in direct marketing," the fruit producer points out, referring to the fruit's high profitability.
Fresh apricots on the tree
In addition, Kiefer notes that the general conditions in the Ortenau region are ideal for growing tropical fruits. "We have an excellent microclimate with less precipitation compared to the Lake Constance district. At the same time, however, apricot is not an easy crop; you just need a certain amount of experience and know-how."
The need for education and communication
The pioneer also sees several challenges in marketing: "The customer is not infrequently amazed that such a crop grows and thrives in our region. This means that there is a certain need for education and communication. But if we can get this right in the future, I think a high status, such as in Austria, is also possible in Germany at some point."
Images: Kiefer Obstwelt GmbH