Hungary - Late spring rain damages early 2023 cherry crop

24.05.2023 221 views

Heavy late spring rain across Hungary last week caused significant cracking damage to early season cherry orchards. “The damage is reportedly widespread, even some sweet cherries under plastic cover suffered losses,” according to Peter Kelemen, from the Medifruct cooperative in Hungary, who are growers of cherries, plums, and sour cherries.

Weather leading up to this year’s early harvest was not ideal, with 3-4 frost days. However, the frost impact is very mixed between orchards with some of them with serious damage and others where the spring frosts had a limited impact says Kelemen.

However, heavy rain fell during last week across production areas in Hungary, which dampened the spirit of producers of early season cherries. Many orchards received 50 mm of rain while many in the west of the country saw a damaging deluge of between 80-120 mm. “That is a lot of rain. The rains caused cracking in early varieties of Burlat, Valerij Cskalov and Nimba. Cracking also occurred in plastic covered orchards through the root pressure. Not all is gone, depending on location and variety the cracking can be between 20%-50%,” explains Kelemen.

Earlier this month producers in Hungary estimated a normal 2023 cherry harvest of about 8,000-10,000 tons, this estimate is now decreased by 10-15% due to the cracking of the early varieties. He says the rain damage is only on the early cultivars, while later cultivars are expected to produce as normal.

Hungarian cherries are exported to Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, and Germany. The harvest of early greenhouse-grown cherries started around 10 May. Kelemen describes their Sweet Early cherry harvest grown under retractable roof greenhouses as follows: “It has exceptional quality and size for the variety as a result of precision climate management, growing in pots, and SRP Pergola pruning.”

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