Apofruit Italia technical manager Andrea Grassi told Fresh Fruit Portal national apricot volumes would likely be at least 30% lower year-on-year for the 2018 season.
He explained that extreme temperatures as low as -10ºC hit key growing regions at a time when many trees were in the flowering stage.
“For fruit in Italy the big problem is only for apricots. There is very significant damage of around 30-40%,” he said.
According to Grassi, the damage had been most severe in the southern growing regions, where he said apricot volumes would likely fall by half this season. In the north, he said the damage level generally ranged from 20-30%.
He also explained that all apricot varieties had been affected to some extent.
In plums, he said some early varieties in the south might be affected, but later cultivars like Angelino had come through the cold unscathed. Plum volumes in the north were also largely unaffected, he added.
The other stonefruit crops – peaches, nectarines and cherries – had not been damaged by the cold weather, he said.
Production of vegetables like artichokes and cabbages in the south of the country was also severely affected, according to Grassi.
The representative added that it was common for Italian apricot volumes to fluctuate from one year to the next, but he said cold weather rarely affected production in the way it had done this year.
Horticultural production has also been impacted in Spain – another one of the European Union’s top fruit and vegetable-growing countries.