Weather extremes cause problems for fruit and vegetable growers

Serious frost damage to stone fruit and green asparagus

Frost, hail and strong temperature fluctuations characterize the current weather situation in Germany. The fluctuating weather is also having an extreme impact on agriculture. FreshPlaza spoke to growers and traders from different sectors and regions about the consequences of the current weather extremes.

Lake Constance: serious damage to kiwi berries and Xenia pears
From Sunday to Monday, temperatures dropped from up to 20oC during the day to just under 2o. "We already heated our apricots for three nights, which all worked well. There has not been any frost damage to the plums so far either, in part because the blossoms are just coming up now. If the blossoming had taken place 2-3 weeks earlier, as it did last year, we would have had seen considerable damage," says a fruit grower based in Eriskirch.

On the other hand, the situation is worse for kiwi berries and Xenia pears, he said. "Op to 80% of our kiwi berries are lost, which is the third crop failure in a row. We have noticed browning in about 70% of our Xenia plants." According to the grower, there is no single, optimal frost protection solution - whether it's films, protective irrigation or frost candles. "Firstly, any measure will be highly dependent on the crop. Secondly, you also have to take the great differences in microclimate into account."

Dithmarschen: early cabbage harvest start not threatened for now
At this time, it is freezing cold in the northern German cabbage stronghold of Dithmarschen as well. "We are still on schedule in terms of cultivation and we expect to be able to start the early cabbage harvest quite normally in week 25. Furthermore, we still have enough stocks," said a Dithmarsch producer and trade.

Austria: "Frost damage to green asparagus"
Capricious weather in recent weeks delayed the start of the asparagus harvest by about two weeks; larger quantities are expected in the coming weekend. "There is frost damage to green asparagus," Werner Magoschitz, chairman of the Marchfeldspargel Association, told ORF. This year, the plants are about two weeks behind, Magoschitz reported.

A few days ago, harvesting started in Marchfeld from crops with special protection, like foil tunnels. While small quantities are currently still being delivered to the food trade and in part to the catering industry, the main harvest is still to come. Asparagus growth is very dependent on the temperature: "On a hot day it's five centimeters, on a cold day only five millimeters," Magoschitz explained. Due to two nights of frost in the previous week, shoots of green asparagus froze off and now have to grow back, he said.

Sluggish soft fruit marketing due to cold weather
The cold weather is not only affecting cultivation, but the trade in imported products as well; products like soft fruit from the Mediterranean. "The market situation is quite relaxed for cultivated blueberries, but demand for raspberries and blackberries dropped off sharply after Easter," says a northern German importer and packer.

Currently, the bulk of the goods come from the Iberian Peninsula or Morocco, supplemented by the last overseas goods from Chile. "For raspberries in particular the supply situation is not bad at all, but in this weather, there is little appetite for soft fruits. Prices are rather high as well. Normally, they tend to go down directly after Easter, but this drop has not yet taken place."

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