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Ben Dor Fruits and Nurseries:

“Israel’s 2024 stone fruit season goes from cold to heat with rocket fire in fields”

The stone fruit season in Israel started a bit later in April, due to a cold, wet spring. This situation has rapidly changed with heatwaves coming through, as the desert temperatures are already hitting 46 degrees this week. Ido Ben Dor, from Israel's Ben Dor Fruits and Nurseries, says they have to contend with a lot this season. "Our season started a bit late. Due to the cold wet spring we only started picking at the beginning of April with our nectarine, peaches and flat peaches, through April apricots and plums, as now the whole range of stone fruit is being harvested. Now we have heatwaves, with yesterday coming in at 46 degrees."

He says as if the harsh weather is not enough, their fields and village in the North of Israel on the Jordan River, located about 7 km from the Lebanon border, comes under constant rocket fire. "There are hundreds of rockets being fired every day from all around us including Lebanon, Yemen and from Iraq. Except for the bombing and dozens of rockets that land in and around our fields, we also have wildfires. We work as usual in-between the bombs. The hot weather is speeding up the harvest, which is not so good for quality."

This is 500kg rocket that landed in a stone fruit orchard in Israel has a damage radius of a 5 meters hole, collateral damage is over a 100 meters radius where all the fruits have been knocked off the tree from the blast.

The ongoing war has led to a shortage of labour to pick the fruit. "We have a shortage of labour, there are not a lot of workers coming in. We have areas on our fields that are not accessible, while these fields are just outside the range of rockets, even though they shoot at our farms. There's around 100,000 people in Israel who are internal refugees who left their houses close to the border with Lebanon and who are now in our village and other locations around Israel and are given shelters and joining other communities. Our village is 150 years old, which my great-great-grandfather established at the end of the 19th century. My family have been living here for 500 years. The workers who are seasonal pickers are not coming in to harvest all the peaches, nectarines and plums," explains Ben Dor.

Israeli farmers have to contend with a lot of wildfires too.

Due to the harsh climate, Ben Dor Nurseries has developed several stone fruit varieties that can withstand the tough conditions. "We are working on red flesh mainly. We breed for good yield every year despite the climate that we encounter on our farms and in the South part of Israel. These varieties are successful for 0 chilling hours. Usually, the mid-season July fruit does not grow in chilling conditions. If a variety is packed late, it means more chilling units are needed. We have several selections that are working with zero or less than 100 hours of cold units. This is a very big advantage even for professional growers. They can be sure about the yield, enabling them to mechanise the process. They can get to a very low cost of orchard yield," states Ben Dor.

Eden Gold Pears planted worldwide
He says their new Eden Gold Pears orchards have been expanded substantially this winter across Spain, France, Italy and Greece. "We planted big amounts of hectares in these countries. In Italy the trees continue to grow, while in South Africa they also have the first plantations. We are very happy with the progress. In the US we will see more fruit that are still in testing blocks, but they work very well. We will expand to the Eastern territories in India and China that is on the way. The Golden Pears are also on their way to Australia, but it's not planted yet. The pear is also planted in Latin America, in Chile and Argentina," concludes Ben Dor.

For more information:
Ido Ben Dor
Ben Dor Fruits and Nurseries
Tel: +972-4-6931161
Email: [email protected]