“Good Dutch, Belgian top fruit crop, firmer than expected”

In the second week of September, quite a few Dutch farmers began harvesting their Conference pears. Belgian growers usually start a week earlier. Not this year, says Herman van Rooijen of Groda AGF, in the Netherlands. Elstar harvesting began few days late too. This top fruit trader gives an update on the harvest’s start and the fruit’s quality.

“The season was relatively cold and cloudy. Harvesting finally began, a little earlier than expected. That was thanks to the warmer weeks preceding the harvest. Throughout the summer, all the fruits’ Brix levels remained low. However, the last few relatively sunny weeks increased that to above 11-12,” he begins.

“Conference pear yields generally vary somewhat between cultivation regions. Some farmers are harvesting more than expected, others less. There are fewer pears, on average, per tree than last year. But those that are there, are larger. This season’s pears have good quality too. They’re firm already, with values around 6kg/0.5 cm2. That’s good news for their shelf life in the coming storage season.”

Elstar apple yields are generally better than last year. And they are of good quality, says Herman. “This year, the fruits have excellent color. They’re also of much better quality than we expected earlier this season. Growers used leaf blowers to stimulate natural coloring. That’s worked out very well. About four weeks ago, we were still a little worried about these apples’ firmness. That seemed to be declining faster than last year. But fortunately, those concerns were quickly dispelled. We harvested Elstar with a 6-6.5 kg/cm2 firmness. That bodes very well for their shelf life.”

Left: Elstar orchard, 9-8-2021. Right: Conference orchard 9-13-2021

Jonagold/Red Prince
Belgian growers haven’t yet begun picking Jonagold apples. They have, however, begun harvesting the first Red Prince. In the Netherlands, too, the first of these apples will be picked soon. That’s because the ripening went quite smoothly. The Jonagold apples, however, aren’t quite ripe yet. The photos below depict a starch test. They show that the apples still have about two weeks to go.

Jonagold apples starch test, 9-14-2021. On the left, the green apples, and on the right, the red apples. These all come off the trees.

“Irrigation didn’t seem very necessary this year. However, the advantage of this, and fertigation, are again clear this year. In the few weeks before the harvest, there wasn’t much rain. Growers with drip irrigation could maintain moisture levels in their orchards better. Combined that with nitrogen and potassium fertilizers. And these orchards maintained higher fruit growth rates until harvest. Overall, in the Netherlands and Belgium, farmers are harvesting good-quality apples and pears. These fruits are also firmer than expected,” Herman concludes.

For more information:
Herman van Rooijen
Groda AGF
1 Het nieuwe Achterom
4185 PA, Est, NL 
Tel: +31 (0) 345 569 641
Email: herman@groda.nl  
Website: www.groda.nl

Source: Fresh Plaza