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Business

Frost hits European apple harvest

Later than usual frosts in Europe earlier this year have badly affected the continent's apple harvest. German farmers have been badly affected, and consumers will be too due to an inevitable rise in prices.

It's been a bad year for European apples. An unseasonal frost in late spring literally nipped thousands of them in the bud and the consequences are now being felt by farmers — and soon consumers — in Germany and beyond.

September and October are the months when apples are usually harvested but there is little spirit of thanksgiving in the air as the yield is unusually low: Europe is facing its worst apple harvest in a decade while Germany's expected yield of 606,275 tons will be its worst since reunification in 1990.

While the problem is continent-wide due to heavier-than-usual frost and rain in the earlier part of 2017, Germany has been particularly affected — and the bad news for consumers is that the lower yield will lead to higher prices, with less apples to go around.

Watch video 01:29

Farmers fret over frost after sudden cold spell

An apple a day will cost more

"We have a significantly smaller yield across Europe because of the high levels of frost in many countries," explained Jürgen Nüssle from the marketing company Obst, which is based in the apple-rich area around Lake Constance, known as the Bodensee in Germany, in the south of the country.

"Prices will rise as a result, but not by enough to compensate farmers for the damage done to the crop."

The later-than-usual frosts of April did serious damage to the many apple crops in the southern region of Baden-Württemberg, but the damage was nationwide. That said, anti-frost technologies did help limit the damage in some northern regions, such as in Lower Saxony and in the lower Elbe area around Hamburg, where apple cultivation is also very strong.

Read more: Polish apples feel the crunch

Nonetheless, those areas have also suffered — the Lower Saxony Statistical Office recently reported that apple yields in the area were down by one third on 2016 figures.

The last time Europe's apple harvest took such a heavy hit was in 2007, with eastern Europe suffering the most at that time.

aos/jh (dpa, AFP)

 

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