Forecast for the fruit harvest in Poland in 2021 ( www.fresh-market.pl press mat.)
Just a few days ago, we were faced with a weather collapse. European countries were flooded by a wave of cold, which had a devastating effect on fruit-growing areas. The frosts affected Italy, Croatia, Hungary, France, Austria, but also our neighbour Germany. Fruit growers are already seeing significant damage to their orchards. Will the European frosts affect apple trees in Poland?
Already at the beginning of the year, the waves of frost left their mark on orchards. Every year, fluctuating temperatures affect the quantity and quality of the harvest of fruit trees and bushes. In winter, fruit growers struggle with frost and in the warmer seasons with drought. In Poland, there was a lack of precipitation in January and February, but now, due to the rainy start to spring, the soil has become moist, which gives farmers hope of less drought than in previous years. However, not all European fruit growers can breathe a sigh of relief. Difficult weather conditions, minus temperatures and rain and heavy snowfall, have affected many of our neighbours and key apple-growing countries.
French farmers are currently facing one of the worst weather disasters. Experts are already forecasting shortages of local fruit and the need for increased imports, which may represent an opportunity for Polish apple growers. The efforts of Croatian fruit growers to protect their orchards from unfavourable weather conditions have not helped either. Despite their best efforts and the use of modern frost protection methods, many crops could not be saved. The fruit sector in Italy was also affected by the minus temperatures. The owners even lit fires to protect their trees from the frost and raise the temperature in their orchards, but Italian fruit growers agree that the damage was and is inevitable. Fruit trees in Spain were also affected by the frost, but there almonds and vines were the worst affected.
The frost damage manifests itself, among other things, in damaged buds and, later on, in poorer quality apples. It is at the very beginning of spring that apple trees are most vulnerable to frost damage due to the start of the growing season. The result of such frost damage is less firm fruit with more defects.
According to experts, we are not threatened by a harvest disaster, but some apple varieties may have been particularly affected. Varieties that are sensitive to frost include Golden Delicious, Gala and Red Delicious. Orchard owners are using various methods to protect their apple trees from frost, such as spraying on trees and artificially warming up their orchards.
-It's going to be a special year, looking at what has happened in western Europe and the south in recent days. Estimates of losses are frightening but optimistic for Polish production. If only our production is not frozen in May, we will be fine." - explains Emilia Lewandowska from Fruit-Group, a member of the Fruit Union
- "In some European countries, losses have already started to be estimated. Some orchards will have to face a significantly smaller harvest. We hope that the risk of spring frosts in Poland will quickly pass and that our fruit growers will not have to worry about their crops," comments Paulina Kopeć, Secretary General of the Fruit Union.
The weather forecasts indicate increased precipitation over the next few days and, consequently, more moisture in the air and in the soil. Consequently, fruit growers should also prepare for a possible threat from apple pests. In a damp environment, it is easier for scab - the best-known and also the most dangerous disease in orchards - to develop. In their efforts to protect their apple trees from infection, orchard owners should remember to use biological balancing methods, which, in addition to being environmentally friendly, also help achieve the economic stability of their farming operations over the long term.
-After the first treatments with copper preparations, which act as a preventive against both scab and bark and wood diseases, the time has come to include preparations containing dithianon in the protection of apple orchards. Using this group of agents in smaller doses, in accordance with the label, allows for effective preventive protection against scab until flowering. It should be remembered that the most important element of effective protection against this apple pathogen is preventive treatment. Intervention measures are a last resort and should not be misused due to the risk of resistance", says Mateusz Woźniak from FreshMazovia, a member of the Owocowa Union.
In the next few days, most species of fruit trees and bushes will start to grow. This is the optimum time to carry out the first protective measures, in which it is worth betting on ecological solutions. According to the idea of sustainable agriculture, the best results of protection at the lowest costs are obtained by simultaneous application of different methods of plant protection: mechanical, physical, biological and, only alternatively, chemical. Weeds are controlled mechanically or by mulching the soil. Mechanical treatments should be carried out as needed, taking care not to cause excessive drying and deterioration of the soil structure. According to the report "Trends on the Polish Orchard Market 2020", an effective way to protect an orchard against hail, but also other precipitation, animals and pests, is to install a hail net system.
Phytosanitary treatments, which involve removing shoots infected by powdery mildew or other fungi, are an indispensable part of non-chemical orchard disease protection. The beginning of spring is also the time when sheets are placed under the trees and pests are shaken off, which helps to reduce the numbers of, for example, apple cider. It is also a good idea to watch your trees for the presence of rootworms and hornworms. Caterpillars of these pests start feeding in early spring, damaging fruit trees. An effective way to counteract the proliferation of butterfly pests is the pheromone technique of confusing male apple pests.
It is important to remember that the most important thing is constant observation of one's orchards and upcoming weather forecasts, as well as preventive, precautionary action that will protect fruit growers from potential damage. With a diagnostic and preventive approach, the grower can take quick and effective action and thus choose the best intervention solutions. Growers should also bear in mind that properly carried out agrotechnical measures are a guarantee of obtaining high-quality fruit and finding customers at home and abroad.