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Belgian pear cultivation hit by pseudomonas bacteria

Belgian pear growers are facing significant challenges in the current fruit growing season. Earlier in the season, they dealt with frost and severe hailstorms, and now they are encountering a major issue with the bacterial disease pseudomonas, FreshPlaza informs. The Belgian TVL already headlined with ‘worst pear harvest in 40 years’. This remains to be seen, says grower Bert Morren, but he too has never seen anything like it. “We have had issues with pseudomonas before, but never to this extent. I think we will have half a harvest,” says the grower from Kortenaken, in Flanders.

The strong emergence of the bacteria cannot be separated from the earlier frost and hail that hit the growers, as the pseudomonas bacteria thrives best in cold and wet conditions. “We also see that it varies greatly by plot. It is mainly the young trees and the trees that were hit by the hail where the bacteria is rampant. On plots where there was less hail, we have little to no problem. It’s really on the wounds from hail and the damaged leaves, where we see a lot of black spots from pseudomonas. We have had issues with the bacteria before, but then we treat it and it goes away. However, as extreme as it is now, I have never experienced, and it will have major consequences for the new harvest.”

Read also: European pear stocks in April 16.3% higher compared to 2023 – WAPA

A new harvest that will be significantly earlier compared to other years. “We now expect to start picking on August 14, but what we will be picking is really wait and see,” continues Bert. “There are plots that are better. There, the pears actually look quite good. They are naturally a bit rougher due to the weather conditions, but they reach their size and are growing well. Nevertheless, there are also trees where there is only one pear hanging. It’s a disaster, making it very difficult to break even this season. We can only hope for good prices, because otherwise it will be a very challenging year for many growers. We are certainly not the only ones affected. Here in the region, everyone is talking about it and I understand that in the Netherlands, growers are also facing problems.”

“However, there is also positive news,” Bert laughs. Despite the problems, the grower tries to highlight the positive aspects. “There may not be many at the moment, but it makes no sense to dwell only in misery. The apple harvest actually looks good. The frost has left some traces here and there, but the apples seem to be turning out very nice. It seems to be a ‘normal’ harvest. Our apple area is significantly smaller than our pear area, but it’s not all doom and gloom.”

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