Last year’s fruit harvest increased by 23%

The Czech Republic’s fruit harvest increased by 23 percent year-on-year to an above-average 165 028 metric tons last year. It was the highest since 2018 and the third highest in 13 years. Fruit growers did not harvest some apples the previous year due to high energy costs for storage and low apple prices.

Compared to the average harvest of the previous five years, last year’s crop was 17 percent higher, said Ivana Kršková, spokeswoman for the Central Institute for Agricultural Inspection and Testing (ÚKZÚZ).

She said that the harvest of core crops, including apples and pears, was higher in the long term due to favorable weather in the year’s second half.

The harvest of apples, the main fruit species, rose by 26 percent to 138,150 metric tons last year. This represents an increase of 20 percent compared to the previous five years’ average. The pear crop remained at an above-average 7404 tonnes last year.

Of the apples, the less colorful mutations of the Jonagold group, as well as the Champion, Braeburn, and Ruby varieties remained unharvested.

Apple prices in stores last autumn were the lowest year on year for two years, entirely out of line with the significant rise in food prices over the previous year.

According to fruit growers, the reason for the lower price of apples was that the market was flooded with Polish apples, which could not be exported to the East due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As a result of the low prices and the resulting losses, fruit growers said that more orchards would be cut down.

Last year’s plum harvest increased 52 percent yearly to 10 343 metric tons. The increase was 27 percent compared to the five-year average.

“Plums did not have a major problem with spring frosts this time, but a significant part of the production was damaged by hail,” Kršková said.

The cherry crop was up 14 percent year-on-year to 1,484 tonnes, but this was an average crop in the long term.

“The cherries did not reach the required marketable caliber in many locations due to the large harvest and the summer drought, and part of the production was damaged in places by June rains and subsequent fruit cracking,” Kršková explained.

The institute attributed the tenth year-on-year drop in cherry harvest to cold damage in the most cultivated variety, Final, which resulted in a significant fruit drop.

Peaches were the worst performer in stone fruit, with a total harvest of 1302 metric tons, 36 percent below the five-year average. Peaches are no longer being grown in the Czech Republic, with a 70 percent reduction in acreage since 2011.

The weather has not been kind to apricots.

Last year’s apricot harvest fell by 8% year on year to 1 704 metric tons.

“The cold weather in April harmed some varieties and in some locations. For example, the growing area of Velké Bílovice was hit by heavy hail at the time of the harvest, and part of the production was thus devalued,” Kršková said.

The harvest size does not significantly impact fruit prices in shops for Czech orchardists. The Czech Republic is only 30 to 40 percent self-sufficient in fresh fruit production, so market and price developments in Europe govern the prices of fruit on the shelves of shops.

For example, apple prices are fundamentally influenced by apple production in Poland, the largest apple producer in Europe, with an annual harvest of around 4.5 million metric tons.