Given that the Greek cherry growers lost the advantage of early varieties over their colleagues from other countries, now they themselves “bet” on mid-early and late varieties, but still keeping a small basket.
This year’s production is enough for only a few cherry, they say to the Athens Agency producers of the prefectures of Pella and Imathia, owho due to weather conditions, (both the frost at the end of March and the beginning of April, as well as the rains in the last few days), they are once again faced with major disasters, which exceed 80%, as they claim.
It is a fact, as the producers themselves acknowledge, that the location of the field one cultivates plays the most important role in relation to extreme weather moods, and as they point out, they are increasingly intensifying due to climate change. In this context and given that Greek cherry growers lost the advantage of early varieties over their colleagues from other countriesnow they themselves “bet” on mid-early and late varieties, however, keeping a small basket, since the weather forecasts for the next period do not bode well.
Thus, in this context, many cherry growers in the prefectures of Pella and Imathia are now entering their fields, not to pick cherries, since as they note there are none, but to sprinkle and save their trees for next year, while others they don’t do that either. Some, however, are harvesting non-stop and at an exterminating pace, in order to anticipate the occurrence of the new rains that are expected this coming weekend (24-25/6).
In any case, the general consensus of all cherry producers is that while this year would probably be the best in terms of commercial interest as a result of the international situation and damage to cherry crops in other countries, yet “another year the weather really soak them in,” they typically say. Of course, as they note, those farmers who make quantities of cherries available will sell them, at a price perhaps more than 2.60 euros/kg.
Indicative of the above-mentioned situation is the fact that “merchants are looking for cherries to complete their loads and cannot find them”, say the producers of the above-mentioned prefectures. Characteristically, the farmer of Pella, Thanasis Antoniou, reports to APE-MPE that a well-known trade and distribution company which is one of the largest fruit export units in the country while traditionally receiving 10 million kilos of cherries every year, “after the rain of Saturday 17 /6, the question is whether he will eventually find 4 million kilos of cherries on the market”.
Huge demand “mercy” shortage
Nationwide, according to Eurostat’s provisional data, for 2022, 205,507 hectares of cherries were cultivated, with the total production amounting to 93,749 tons, the special advisor of the Association of Greek Fruit, Vegetables and Juices Exporting Companies “INCOFRUIT” pointed out to the Athens Agency -HELLAS”, Giorgos Polychronakis. According to his estimates, in 2022 in Imathia 15,500 acres were cultivated with cherries and the total production reached 7,000 tons, and in Pella the corresponding figures are estimated at 135,000 acres and 56,000 tons. “From the aforementioned figures for Pella and Imathia, it follows that more than 70% of the total cherry production in Greece comes from the prefectures of Pella and Imathia,” emphasizes Mr. Polychronakis, noting that these figures do not vary significantly from year to year time.
He described this year as “difficult” for Greek cherry growers as well and admitting that the weather conditions did indeed harm the growers of this fruit throughout Europe, he notes that given the shortage of cherries, there is already a huge demand throughout the EU. “This year, the cherry, as everything shows, will be a luxury item, unless the late varieties do well,” he underlines.
Significantly reduced this year’s cherry production in Pella
In the prefecture of Pella in Central Macedonia, and more specifically in the 14 mountain cherry villages of the prefecture, more than 15,000 acres are cultivated with cherries. In this region, this year’s production is expected to be reduced by up to 90%, although fortunately there are some exceptions. One such is 33-year-old Akis Samaras, who cultivates cherries in Kato Grammatiko, which is built on the northern slopes of Vermio, at an altitude of 820 meters and southeast of Lake Vegoritida. Saying that the early cherry varieties suffered a 40% damage due to the weather conditions, Mr. Samaras notes that “from today we are non-stop picking the mid-early varieties that were not hit by the rain, in order to prevent any change in the weather and with the aim to fulfill the agreement to sell them at the price of 2.60 euros/kg”. In fact, he points out that as long as the weather cooperates with him, the late cherry varieties “will do well” and so he may finally be able to make a profit from his production this year, since as he explains “the quantities may be less and the production cost triple, but the producer price this year is…highly satisfactory.
Despair, anger and anxiety are the main feelings of the cherry growers in Archangelos of the municipality of Almopia (PE Pella), with the president of the community Dionysis Dreno, a producer, pointing out that “every year we get more and more into financial trouble and now most of the farmers cherry trees are forced into… disorderly flight from cherry cultivation, due to the unbearable cost of production which has tripled in recent years to 800 euros/hectare, but also as a result of repeated losses due to weather phenomena”. Pointing out that this year’s production is estimated to be down by more than 85%, he said that “while we traditionally harvest 10 million kilos of cherries, this year the question is whether we will reach 2 million kilos”.
In the 14 mountainous cherry villages of the prefecture, more than 25,000 acres are cultivated with cherries and in total, this year’s production is expected to be reduced by perhaps more than 50% compared to last year, depending on the moods of the weather and whether they will affect the late varieties or not .
For the prefecture of Pella as a whole, the farmer, Thanasis Antoniou, coordinator of a large portion of producers in the region, points out that with today’s data the reduction in production exceeds 80% and “if the forecasts for the upcoming weekend are confirmed, then we will be talking about our total destruction ».
A 50% reduction was recorded in the production of the early cherries grown on 1,800 acres by most of the 130 producers of the Piperia Agricultural Cooperative in the Almopia municipality of the Pella Regional Unit, as noted by its member, farmer Dimitris Avramidis.
“Just like last year, this year on the same date, there was rain and hail on June 10”, he emphasizes and adds “a worker traditionally harvests 100 kg of cherries in his schedule and today if he reaches 40 kg, we are talking about success. There are no cherries,” he says.
Imathia “sees” reduced production up to 80%
The fruit growers in the prefecture of Imathia speak of a reduced cherry production of perhaps more than 80%, with the president of the Agricultural Association of Farmers of Veria, Tasos Chalkidis, a producer pointing out that the early varieties did not do well and the reduction exceeds 80 %, but the late ones “with the help of god”, will pay off.
“The year looked favourable, but with the rains we lost early cherries that were not picked at all and things are already not going well for the late varieties, which will be completely destroyed if the forecasts are confirmed and we have new rains in the next few days.” In the prefecture of Imathia, according to him, cherries are grown in the areas – among others – of Varvares, Ammos, Trilofos, Veria, Tripotamos, Rahia and Naoussa.
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