Severe frosts hit Belgian pome fruit, cherry production
A prolonged hard frost in Belgium's major fruit-growing region of Flanders last week had a devastating effect on crops, according to grower body Boerenbond.
In a release, the organization said frosts over April 19-20 had been "much stronger than forecasts had predicted."
In south Limburg, a Flanders province that produces more than half of Belgium's free fruit, temperatures reached -6°C, which Boerenbond said made them the worst blossom-time frosts for over 25 years.
They also coincided with blossom that was two weeks early due to warm weather.
The grower body said various protective measures were taken, even including the deployment of a helicopter, but fruit crops were still severely affected.
Having since assessed the damage, it estimates that 78% of the apple harvest will be lost.
In cherries, losses were also great despite being better protected overall, Boerenbond said.
"We're talking average losses of 82% on plots without protection, but up to 56% even on plots where protection measures were taken."
Pear losses are expected to be around 63% on unprotected plots, 37% on those with protection.
Frosts last week also impacted on apple growers in northern Italy, with varying accounts as to the severity of the damage.
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