Hungarian melon growers will not close a successful campaign this year, as only half of the expected quantity has been produced, and this drop has only been partially offset by the higher-than-usual prices. The low yields are mainly due to cooler, wetter weather during the season and less sunshine than usual in summer.
The Ministry of Agriculture estimates the melon production of the 2018 French countryside at 246,213 tons, 11% less than last year and 5% less than the 2013-2017 average. This figure is explained by the reduction of surfaces combined with climatic conditions. Spring storms have made things difficult for open-air cultivation and summer heat has accelerated fruit ripening, offsetting the peak of production after mid-July.
Almost 35% of the muskmelon and watermelon crops, grown on over 4,000 ha in Kapurthala and Jalandhar, have been damaged due to rains and hailstorms this season. Farmers in the area are looking at even bigger losses as unfavourable weather earlier this month has reduced the sweetness of melons. Untimely rain causes melons to swell, making them tasteless, say experts.
Hualien's Yuli Township is renowned for its sweet watermelons and this year -because of a mild spring- a bumper harvest is expected in an area covering 160 hectares. Many of the watermelon farmers are elderly, and in previous years to prevent thieves from making off with the hard-earned melons, many would have to camp out in the fields at night.
The Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producer Organizations of Almeria (Coexphal) has reported that the cold, in addition to slowing down the long cycle vegetable campaign, will also be taking a toll on spring crops like melons and watermelons, "of which there could be a very small early production." This organization, made up of 83 firms that account for 70% of Almeria's exports and 65% of the province's fruit and vegetable production, has estimated a 20% decline in the production of greenhouse vegetables as a result of the cold temperatures recorded in January.
Summer was interrupted by bad weather in central-southern Italy. Last weekend, temperatures have been exceptionally low, 10°C below the period average. With the drop in temperatures, a Flash Storm brought the snow back on the Abruzzo mountains (Gran Sasson and even Altopiano delle Rocche). Strong rain hit the Bari area, especially along the coast and in the Bisceglie, Giovinazzo, Molfetta, Ruvo di Puglia and Terlizzi area. Between 50 and 60 mm of rain fell in just a few hours, causing many problems.
Following the frost in April, then the rain, cold and lack of sun, melon producers in the Poitou-Charentes are worried. Tony Thibault has a 58 hectare farm in the Vienne (80% of the Poitou-Charentes melon production is in the Vienne and Deux-Sèvres), he says that the harvest would normally have started at the end of June, “but this year with the bad weather, it hasn’t been possible, the melons have not yet reached maturity”.
More than two weeks after the melon harvest started in the municipality of San Pedro some producers have recorded a 40 to 50 percent decrease in yields. As a result, they expect it will be a difficult season, as they won't profit as expected. According to producers, the delay in the watering cycle caused by the poor distribution of liquid in the irrigation modules, negatively affected the growth of their plants. Under the best conditions, producers can harvest up to 40 tons of melons per hectare.
The heat and the strong sun are damaging the melons and watermelons. This year's harvest was very small, nearly 80% of what was cultivated rotted, said a producer from Cambyreta. The watermelons burst, sometimes because they are ripe and other times because the sun is too strong and cracks them. The round ones burst the most. Producers were only able to save a few watermelons this season. "If the plant cracks, the pests enter it and it rots.
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