Dutch count cost of season's crop loss

Growers report EUR85m losses of fruit after February frosts caused bud damage and loss of trees.

While UK growers begin to count the cost of one of the wettest growing seasons on record, growers in mainland Europe have experienced a further challenge.

The Dutch Fruit Growers Organisation (NFO) has calculated the losses of fruit to frosts in early February at EUR85m (£67m), of which EUR70m was due to bud damage and EUR15m to loss of trees.

According to the Dutch horticultural product board: "Only at the end of this year will it be clear how large the total loss of trees will be." It estimated that apple yields will be down 23 per cent this year and pears 38 per cent.

The protected salad sector has also struggled with poor light levels this year, which has been a factor in the four per cent drop in fresh produce output over the first five months of this year, the board said.

However, the area of glasshouses growing tomatoes grew by three per cent to 1,760ha, it added.

In the same period, fresh produce exports to the UK fell by nine per cent, although aubergines and apples bucked the trend.

Exports to Russia, on the other hand, rose by 42 per cent and are now twice as great as those to France, which fell by 24 per cent.

Pear planting rises

Pears have now overtaken apples by planted area in the Netherlands.

The area under pears has increased by two per cent this year, which is equal to the fall in the area of apples, and now stands at 8,350ha.

Twenty years ago, the Netherlands had 17,000ha used for growing apples and just 5,400ha for pears.

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