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Apple harvest suffers from rain and heat

Rain and heat led to a poor apple harvest in Germany last year. Frost damage during flowering and intense heat and drought in early summer were a burden.

Unfavorable weather affected the German apple harvest last year: around 941,200 tons were harvested in 2023, around 129,800 tons or 12.1 percent less than in the high-yield year 2022. The Federal Statistical Office announced this today. Compared to the average for the years 2013 to 2022, the apple harvest was around 39,900 tons or 4.1 percent lower. Wet, cold weather during the flowering period, heat and dryness in summer take a toll on the trees and resulted in the third worst harvest in the past ten years. The year 2017 was even weaker with 596,700 tons and the year 2013 with 803,800 tons.

Last year there was some frost damage during flowering. The heat and drought that occurred in early summer put additional strain on many trees “and promoted sunburn and drought stress.” In addition, according to the Federal Office, there was an increase in diseases such as scab and local precipitation and hail events that damaged the fruit in midsummer. The weak harvest is likely to lead to rising prices.

Most apples become table fruit

The two largest German apple-growing regions, Altes Land (Lower Saxony and Hamburg) and Lake Constance (Baden-Württemberg), had to endure noticeable declines. In the southwest, a good 16 percent fewer apples were harvested than in 2022 and in the north almost ten percent fewer. Measured against the nationwide apple harvest, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony achieved shares of 33.3 and 30.0 percent respectively.

Nationwide, around three quarters (699,600 tons) of the 2023 apple harvest were earmarked for marketing as table fruit. Around a quarter of the harvest (226,600 tons) was used as commercial or industrial fruit – for example for the production of fruit juice, preserves or cider. The remaining 1.6 percent or 15,000 tons could not be marketed due to storage or processing losses.

Also fewer plums and plums

The harvest volume of plums and plums in 2023 was 43,800 tons, 6.5 percent below the previous year and 3.7 percent below the average value of the past ten years. Due to unfavorable weather conditions, pest infestations such as vinegar flies and fruit splitting caused by rain, there were losses in yield in some regions.

Apples accounted for a good 88 percent of the total recorded harvest of 1.1 million tons of tree fruit in 2023. The proportion of plums and plums was 4.1 percent. In addition, 37,800 tons of pears (3.5 percent), 32,400 tons of sweet cherries (3.0 percent), 7,800 tons of sour cherries (0.7 percent) and 5,800 tons of mirabelle plums and reneclodes (0.5 percent) were harvested in Germany.

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