Severe frosts this week have left Hungary’s fruit crop in a critical condition, with counties stretching across the south of the country among the most affected.
Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg County, an important fruit-growing region in the east, saw between 10 per cent and 100 per cent of the blossoms in its orchards destroyed by spring frost that left trees covered in icicles early on Tuesday,
Apple Products Council (Alma Terméktanács) chairman Ferenc Takács, whose company has its seat in the county’s Újfehértó, said it would take about two weeks to form a better picture of the damage, but that after a quick survey he estimated much of the peach crop and about half of the cherry crop were wiped out.
Three major fruit producers reported damage in southern Zala County with hail compounding the frost damage, local newspaper Zalai Hírlap reported on Thursday. Gábor Méhes, who owns apple orchards in Lakhegy in Zala County, said damage depends on the varieties of fruit trees but that few unaffected trees could be found.
Early-blooming Idared and Braeburn apple crops were mostly destroyed, he said. Later varieties had suffered 70 to 80 per cent damage.
Bloom and bust
The stint of warm weather in late March and early April encouraged the development of flowers on apricot, almond, cherry, apple, pear and plum trees. But temperatures cooled this week to -9 in some areas on Monday evening, with two successive nights of cold causing more harm than last year’s frosts, the head of Hungarian Fruit and Vegetable Board FruitVeB, Béla Mártonffy, said.
Although there had been advance warnings of the frosts the affected area was too wide for adequate defences to be put into place, he said. Farmers would likely confront further problems with cooler and wetter weather encouraging the development of fungal diseases.