HomeNewsA good hazelnut harvest is expected in Georgia in 2023 — Merab Chitanava

A good hazelnut harvest is expected in Georgia in 2023 – Merab Chitanava

The head of the Georgian Hazelnut Growers Association (GHGA) forecasts a much better hazelnut harvest in 2023 compared to last year, provided that hazelnut growers are active, EastFruit reports.

“We have very high expectations for the upcoming season. According to our agronomists, the hazelnut orchards endured the winter very well, in almost all regions there was a good flowering stage, development continues, and based on natural conditions, we expect a much better hazelnut harvest in 2023,” the Chairman of the Executive Board of the Georgian Hazelnut Growers Association (GHGA) Merab Chitanava said.

According to Merab Chitanav, the main thing now is that farmers take a responsible approach to the entire cycle, starting with the chemical treatment of orchards to protect plants from pests and diseases and fertilizing, ending with hazelnut harvesting and storage. And they realized that an unkempt garden can never compete with a well-groomed one.

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“There was a very poor harvest both in terms of quantity and quality last year. According to preliminary estimates, the 2022 harvest was less than 40 000 tonnes, while the average hazelnut harvest in Georgia is about 55 000 tonnes.
Today, the volumes of hazelnuts in the country are almost exhausted, and there are almost no products for sale, while a year earlier, during this period, 20% -25% of the crop still remained on the market.

According to the Association (the cadastre of hazelnuts is not yet completed), the total area of ​​hazelnut orchards in the country is about 70 000 ha. This means that the yield of hazelnuts last year was about 500 kg per 1 ha, while, based on the average, it should have been 700-800 kg per 1 ha. Accordingly, farmers received less income. Meanwhile, in healthy orchards in various regions of Georgia, the yield of hazelnuts is 2.5-3 tonnes per 1 ha, in some orchards it reaches 3.5 tonnes per hectare. If farmers are actively involved and do all the necessary work, the yield in their orchards will reach 1.5-2 tonnes per 1 ha in two seasons. This means that the hazelnut harvest in the country will exceed 100 000 tonnes, and its implementation will bring huge income for the sector. Of course, most of the proceeds will come from the families of farmers. It should also be taken into account that if there are quality products in the orchards for several consecutive seasons, Georgian hazelnuts will be sold in a more expensive segment of the market, that is, the price will be consistently high. Current prices are volatile, because every year the country has a different harvest, and it is more difficult to sell it.

Proper care of a hazelnut orchard is not that complicated but it has several components. The first is the agronomic component. This is the correct pruning of trees and fertilization (I would like to separately note the control of soil acidity: in many regions of Western Georgia it exceeds the optimal value, and it is desirable to use lime to reduce it), the fight against the marble bug, which is currently the main enemy of quality. Another stage of a large-scale fight against the marble bug will begin in Georgia soon, where the Association will also take part, and within the framework of which pheromone traps will be distributed to farmers. The installation of such traps will prevent the invasion of bugs in the orchards. In addition, farmers must carry out six orchard treatments in accordance with the Association’s proposed scheme (to combat the marble bug, other pests, and diseases).

Other components are harvesting and the subsequent process. You need to harvest in a short time, do not make it last for 2-3 weeks, since rains severely damage already-ripened nuts. To preserve the quality of the harvested hazelnuts, it is urgent to dry them. Otherwise (especially if there are traces of marble bug bites on the nut), rot will appear and affect the quality. Small volumes of hazelnuts can be dried simply by putting them out in the sun, but if there are 10-15 tonnes, it is better to contact the drying centers. In addition to the quality-related benefits, a farmer who has placed his crop in a drying and storage center can, by presenting a relevant certificate, receive a bank loan under a simplified procedure (within the framework of the GHGA and Liberty Bank project). This mechanism has proved efficient in 2022,” Merab Chitanava said.

Merab Chitanava also urged farmers not to agree to a quantitative method for assessing quality when selling their hazelnuts.

“In Western Georgia (in the Kakheti region this is not practiced), they came up with a new quantitative method for checking the quality of hazelnuts: they break 10-20 nuts, see how many kernels are healthy, and depending on this they name the price for 1 kg of in-shell hazelnuts. The only purpose of this method is to buy hazelnuts cheaply, and only the farmer can suffer from it. This method is not used anywhere in the world, and we do not support it. The yield of the kernel is not determined only by the number of healthy kernels in unsplit nuts, it depends on the weight of the kernels. If, for example, 6 healthy kernels come out of one dozen nuts, and 6 healthy kernels come out of another dozen nuts, hazelnuts will be purchased at the same price, meanwhile, they may differ in weight by 2-3%, and the farmer will lose these percentages. I urge farmers to sell their hazelnuts in a place with a laboratory (purchasing point, drying enterprise, hazelnut processing plant) where analyses will be made and the real purchase price will be determined,” he claimed.


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