Jul 02, 2024

Frosts Slash Czech Fruit Harvest by 77%, Apples Hit Hardest

The fruit harvest in the Czech Republic is expected to plummet by 77 percent this year compared to the five-year average, which may threaten many farmers’ livelihood, Martin Ludvík, chairman of the Fruit Growers’ Union told iRozhlas.

Spring frosts have caused one of the worst crop damages in the last century, with the apple harvest particularly devastated. “In Bohemia, 90 percent of the apple production is destroyed,” added Ludvík.

Traditionally, spring frosts primarily affect more sensitive fruit species like apricots, peaches, plums, and cherries. However, this year saw a slight decrease in damage to apricots and peaches, as these fruits are predominantly grown in southern Moravia, which experienced less frost damage.

The unprecedented severity of the frosts has led to a dramatic reduction in the apple crop, with expectations of only about a fifth of the usual yield.

The reduced harvest is likely to lead to a significant rise in the price of Czech fruit, particularly apples, which have a long selling period from autumn to the following summer. This situation mirrors the recent rise in cherry prices and foreshadows similar trends for apples.

The most critical period for fruit growers will begin in January when the shortfall in apple sales becomes apparent. Orchards will need preparation for the next season, putting additional strain on resources.

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Apples account for 80 percent of fruit growers’ sales in the Czech Republic, making the impact of this year’s frost particularly severe.

With around 800 apple-growing enterprises in the country, many of which are small family farms, the loss of this year’s crop could push up to two-thirds of these growers into existential difficulties.

Agriculture Minister Marek Výborný said earlier that the government would provide farmers with state aid to the tune of CZK 70 to 100 million. He said that while the state cannot afford to compensate farmers fully, it wants to help them survive.

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