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Tuesday 12 November 2019

Yields plunge as apple trees fall victim to wet summer

Aideen Sheehan

IF that apple tree in your garden is looking bare this year, you're not alone.

Even the professionals have been hit by adverse weather, with Dublin apple grower Donnacha Donnelly reporting just 20pc to 30pc of his normal yield of eating apples and 50pc of his normal Bramley cooker yield.

Unseasonably mild weather in March followed by a prolonged cold snap during April and May was the culprit.

Trees were lulled into early growth but then hit by frost, while persistent rain stopped bees venturing out to pollinate trees.

Mr Donnelly, right, said he'd been hit a double whammy as the bad weather had also devastated his turnip crop at Iona Farm in Oldtown.

Irish apple yields this summer are a fraction of what they'd normally be.

Leading apple grower and guru Con Traas says yields are just 10 to 25pc of what they would usually be.

While only about one in 20 of the apples we eat here is grown at home -- the rest are used for cider, juice and baking -- apple crops in major producing countries like France and Holland have plummeted to just 60pc of their normal levels, Mr Traas said.

The scarcity meant that European prices to growers were soaring by at least 30pc, and similar price hikes could be passed on to consumers.

"The typical price to a grower might have been €300 to €350 a tonne but that's rising to €450 this year, so consumers could see a rise of 10-30pc," Mr Traas said.

With apples typically retailing at 54c each now, that could mean prices soaring as high as 70c.

However, Mr Traas said the shop price was typically three times the price paid to growers, meaning middlemen had scope to reduce their margins and still make money.

Meanwhile, cider apples have fared a little better as they're a later crop -- though the bad news for Bulmers makers C&C is that bad summer weather in Ireland and the UK is expected to cut cider consumption by 10pc this year.

Irish Independent

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