Vegetable cultivation in Bavaria consists of around 1,700 farms with approx. 16,000 hectares of open field and 279 hectares of greenhouse production. In addition to all this, there are 278 organic farms with 3,263 hectares of land, explained Michaela Ach from Department L3, Viticulture and Horticulture at the Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry.

She presented facts and figures on vegetable growing during a lecture at the 58th Autumn Conference of German Vegetable Growers in Munich-Feldkirchen. As of 2020, there are around 245 farms cultivating 2-5 hectares, while the number of farms cultivating over 50 hectares is 68. Harvest volumes have increased, although there were slumps in 2013, 2015 and 2018 due to drought and a lack of irrigation options.

Michaela Ach from the Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forestry.

"Bavaria has a large pickled product processing industry. 68 percent of the total German harvest of pickled cucumbers can be found in Bavaria," says Ach. Farm sizes are tending to increase. The three large companies in Bavaria include GEO Bayern eG, Franken-Gemüse eG and Gartenbauzentrale Main-Donau eG.

The majority of vegetable cultivation takes place around the Würzburg area, in Knoblauchsland and in the Munich plains. There are three geographically protected places of origin for asparagus: Franconian asparagus in Knoblauchsland and Würzburg, Abensberg asparagus around Augsburg and Kehlheim and cultivation around Schrobenhausen. While there is particularly high-yielding soil in regions such as the Augsburg area, the situation in Knoblauchsland is rather worse.

The driest regions of Bavaria include Würzburg, around the Bergtheimer Mulde, whose precipitation rate is comparable to that of Jordan. The groundwater formation rate there is less than 25 mm. There are six main irrigation areas in which special crops are also grown. These include the Schweinfurt Mainbogen, the Steigerwald wine-growing region, the Bergtheimer Mulde, the Knoblauchsland, the regions around Augsburg, Regensburg, etc. From 2016 to 2022, the area under cultivation remained relatively constant, while the number of farms fell significantly. Bavaria is in 4th place in terms of cultivated open-air areas, after North Rhine-Westphalia in 1st place with around 28,700 hectares of open-air area, followed by Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate.

The main crops grown outdoors are asparagus with over 3,000 hectares, followed by onions with 2,600 hectares, lettuce with 1,620 hectares, carrots with 1,430 hectares and other vegetables. Asparagus acreages have risen continuously since 1992, although there has been a decline since 2021. Onions have also been on the rise for many years. There has also been an increase in edible pumpkins for many years, although this has declined somewhat since 2021.

Following a reduction in greenhouse areas in 2014, a slight growth has been recorded again. In total, there are around 350 farms that grow under glass. Compared to other federal states, Bavaria is in second place with 308.77 hectares, after Baden-Württemberg with 362.37 hectares. Overall, a clear intensification of greenhouse production can be observed.

Most areas in Bavarian organic vegetable production are cultivated with leaf and stem vegetables, followed by asparagus, cabbage and other vegetables and pulses. There has also been an increase in organic vegetable cultivation, from 170 farms in 2014 to 278 farms in 2022.

Bavaria has a self-sufficiency rate of 36 percent. "More cucumbers for pickling are produced in Bavaria than are consumed there. For cabbages and asparagus, the relationship between self-sufficiency and production is fairly balanced. However, the demand for leafy, root and onion vegetables exceeds production. The demand for vegetables from protected cultivation, i.e. tomatoes, sweet peppers and cucumbers, clearly exceeds production volumes." Finally, Ach pointed out that although the number of new entrants in Bavarian vegetable growing is constant, only 27 new trainees have been added this year.

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