Gierstädt (dpa / th) – The weather is playing badly for Thuringia’s fruit growers with sweet cherry plantations this year. After heavy late frost at the end of March, when some varieties already had large buds or showed the first flowers, the heavy rain is now affecting the fruits, said the managing director of Fahner Obst eG, Jörg Dornberger, on Monday on request. “Two thirds of the harvest has already fallen victim to frost. That is dramatic.” According to him, the cooperative is the largest producer of cherries in Thuringia.
The self-picking sweet cherry season began on Monday. Special plantations are reserved for Thuringians who want to pick the fruit from the tree themselves, for example in Tiefthal, a district of Erfurt. The campaign runs over about five weeks, in which different varieties gradually ripen. “Then it goes on with sour cherries.”
According to the managing director, the cooperative cultivates around 500 hectares of apple orchards and around 500 hectares of sweet and sour cherries and plum trees.
The professional sweet cherry harvest has been going on for about a week. Because the harvest is so small, the cooperative gets along with its harvest workers who come from Poland. Many of them have already helped with tree care. In the coming weeks, around 20 harvest workers from Romania are expected to be able to return after the corona restrictions have been relaxed.
In contrast to sweet cherries, sour cherries and plums are expected to have a normal harvest, said Dornberger. “Unfortunately, the apples are also a bit damaged – they are not that beautiful because of the frost.” He hopes that retailers and consumers will still rely on local crops. “We’ll see how retailers react.”
The fluctuations in income are always a tightrope walk for fruit growers. The consequences of the expected failures this year are currently not foreseeable. Developments in world market prices also play a role. “We just have to be careful – for example with investments.”
Last year had not gone well for fruit growers. “The apple harvest was only 60 percent of the normal value. The reasons were cold in spring and hail and drought in summer.” The 2019 harvest was not much better for cherries and plums either.