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Gunther De Vadder, BelOrta:

"If we don't plan it right, we will lack organic pears by the end of December"

A very unsettled spring looks set to have its repercussions on the upcoming Belgian top fruit harvest. Where conventional is already talking about lower volumes, it appears that organic hard fruit will not escape the dance either. "In pears we expect to be able to pick up to 30 percent less and in apples we count 40 to 45 percent what has already fallen off the tree due to moulting," explains Gunther De Vadder of BelOrta.

"For pears, it is mainly Conference that has been hit by scab pressure," he continues. "The QTee is actually doing very well, but the rain has caused a lot of damage to the Conference. However, I think this will be the case across Europe, which might still be a saving grace. We have to take a good look at how we are going to tackle it next season."

"Normally, we do dare to sell the Conference at the same time as the QTee at the start of the season, but I would now market the QTee first before we start Conference. That's the plan, anyway. Maybe give the health food shops the privilege of differentiating themselves from the supermarket and market the Doyenne and other varieties, such as Xenia, Concorde, Durendeau A. and Lucas. It will be necessary to give the season of organic pears a length, otherwise we will be empty by the end of December. That is not good for consumers either, because there will be a gap until the overseas product arrives. We have to find the connection until week 12."

Regarding apples, the situation is not much better, Gunther fears. "Almost half have fallen off the trees. I had Austria on the line just last week and there, apples of 30 mm were still falling off the trees due to moulting. It's very unusual, but we can therefore speak of significantly fewer Jonagolds. With other varieties like Santana, however, it is not so bad. Those have been reasonably spared, but particularly the scab-sensitive varieties in the organic segment have experienced problems."

"It will be a difficult season, I expect. There is demand for organic pears and most of it is also pre-sold, but I just need to match supply and demand. Moreover, we will have to make customers aware that the apples and pears will have a place. Qualitatively, everything is fine, but aesthetically, they will have to accept less perfect fruit," Gunther concludes.

For more information:
Gunther De Vadder
Mechelsesteenweg 120
B-2860 Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Belgium
Tel: +32 155 655 291
[email protected]

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