Fruit farmers in Switzerland move toward positive balance

Despite the drought: all-in all, the producers are moving toward a positive balance for the summer-fruit season. The fruit is ripening under good conditions, but have partially suffered under the summer heat.

The harvest quantities did not quite reach the same volume as last year, but are still above the long-standing average. The drosophila suzukii was present, but did not cause as much damage as feared. The summer fruit year of 2015 proceeded mostly positively, also when the weather conditions were occasionally downright challenging. After the predominantly mild spring, the summer season was strongly characterized by the summer heat. The accompanying drought and intense solar radiation frequently caused problems. Temperature-wise, the summer of 2015 was only a little under the one of 2003, the hottest summer of the century so far. That July was even the hottest since temperatures started being registered.
Summer heat bothers the berries
The berries suffered the most under the weather conditions. Nevertheless, a positive balance could generally be grown. The summer fruit season began at the start of May with the strawberries, about a week later than in 2014. The harvest quantities rose steadily. The cold weather in the second half of May slowed down the fruit’s ripening however. From the start of June onward, the cultivars on open ground ripened simultaneously in the high-summery temperatures. The demand in the retail trade did not keep up with the large harvested quantities. The strawberries could not be marketed as desired and producers were in part forced to take bitter losses.
From mid June onward the situation loosened up and the strawberries could be sold well. 7,326 tons of strawberries have been sold up until the start of October, 85% of the quantity of spring (8,720 tons), The first raspberries were harvested at the start of July, but the harvested quantities increased less strongly than last year. In return, hardly any problems occurred on the market. The heat, or rather the intense solar radiation at the end of June/start of July bothered the cultures, however.
Many raspberries could not be sold due to sunburn damage. People waited in vain for the large quantities especially with the autumn raspberries. Nevertheless the sold quantity shows itself: with 1,355 tons, the harvested quantity of 2015 is just under last year's 1405 tons. The remaining soft fruits are experiencing a good harvest, both in terms of quantity and quality:
• Blueberries: 410 t (2014: 458 t)
• Blackberries: 397 t (2014: 420 t)
• Currants: 265 t (2014: 278 t)
• Gooseberries: 46 t (2014: 45 t)
• Cassis: 16 t (2014: 16 t)
Fewer cherries 28+ than expected
This year, the hot, dry summer weather affected the growth of the cherries. The fruits became less big than expected and ripened fast. Thus, especially the quantity of class 28+ (fruit with a diameter of over 28 mm) was clearly under the expected 1,100 tons, at 586 tons. Of class 24+, with 1,274 tons, almost as much was harvested as expected (1,300 tons). On the other hand, with 334 tons in class 21+, the harvest was under the estimated 550 tons.
Compared to the ten-year average of of around 1,900 tons, this year's harvest can be considered good, despite all the adversity. A large deviation occurred with the industry cherries, where they expected around 900 tons, but only around 478 tons could be delivered. The short-term announcement from the retail trade and processing industry to clearly take less fruit is primarily responsible for this.
People were counting on a good harvest for apricots and a trading quantity of around 4,100 tons in class 1. Despite hail in spring and extreme summer heat, a good 3,744 tons of class 1 apricots had reached retail towards the end of the harvest. This is clearly under last year’s quantity of 5,360 tons, but within the range of 2012 and 2013.

The expected quantity of 3,200 tons of plums was almost reached with 3,146 tons. For plums of 33 mm, the estimated 1,835 tons were slightly surpassed with 1,897 tons. For Fellenberg plums, the harvested 1,249 tons were slightly under the expected 1,389 tons.

High quality despite difficult conditions
Contrary to last year, the market for summer fruit was challenging. It is difficult to say which factors contributed to this. It is obvious however, that consumers eat more fresh fruit in beautiful summer weather than in cooler, rainy weather. The fact that the quantities conformed to the market also certainly contributed to the market clearly giving less trouble than last year. And not in the last place, despite difficult growing conditions, the producers made sure that the quality of the fruit was guaranteed at all times.

The customers in Switzerland are demanding. No matter how varied the demands and tastes are: the customers makes the final quality check for themselves- with is purchasing decision he has the most effective instrument in hand. It is good that ever more Swiss are deciding on domestic fruit.

Drosophila suzukii: much effort and uncertainty
In accordance with experiences from last year, there was uncertainty at the beginning of the season, as to how the drosophila suzukii (black-spotted drosophila) would affect the harvest. Together with Agroscope, the industry is developing a catalogue of measures that producers can take against the insect. That the drosophila suzukii is there and has to be accounted for, was already shown in spring by the flies caught in the traps of the monitoring net.

Now, towards the end of the season, it turns out that the number of flies caught has been practically as high as last year. The damage to the cultivars however, was clearly less. At certain points there were problems, but altogether the damage has been kept within limits by the range of measures.

The fact cannot be argued away however, that this little insect brings the producers much additional expenditure, either through fighting them directly or indirectly. Not to be forgotten is certainly also the psychic strain from the latent dangers of severe harvest losses.


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