Dutch pear crop volumes expected to be 40% lower

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Dutch pear crop volumes expected to be 40% lower

Dutch pear growers estimate losses of tens of millions of euros this season with crop volumes in the central province of Flevoland up to 80% lower than in previous years.

The Netherlands Fruit Organization (NFO) said an unusually mild January meant pear trees had started to bud, only to be hit by minus 22 degrees centigrade (71.6 Fahrenheit) temperatures in February.

"They were starting to bud, they were very vulnerable. Normally, we don't have that kind of weather," said NFO communications manager Marijke van Ossenbruggen.

Central parts of the country were worst hit, while the northern and the southern areas were less severely affected.

Pears in northern Europe are starting to flower now with harvesting due in early September.

Importer C G Timmermans estimated national pear production could be 30-40% lower than previous seasons due to Europe's coldsnap in February.

Owner Jan Timmermans said within the next few weeks a clearer picture would emerge as to just how badly crops have been affected.

"The problem is mainly with pears, they are less sturdy and they are more delicate than apples."

He said Dutch growers had recently planted a lot of new conference pear orchards because this was one of the few varieties, which brought in money for producers.

"New trees are coming into production and a lot of the young trees were affected by the frost."

The Netherlands has increased its pear production from 6,024 hectares in 2002 to 8,200 hectares in 20011 growing almost as many pears as apples.

Last year C G Timmermans exported 30,000 metric tons of pears. The company also imports from Chile, Argentia and South Africa.


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