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Challenges and hope: the 2023 hazelnut season in Georgia

The hazelnut production in Georgia faces challenges in the 2023 season, but there is hope for better quality and quantity than in 2022. Sales of newly harvested hazelnuts in green husk have already started on the local market, but exporters have not started buying yet. The average wholesale price for hazelnuts with green husk is 2-3 GEL/kg ($0.77-$1.16). The upcoming month of August is expected to see massive harvesting. Dry weather during the harvesting season will be crucial for obtaining quality hazelnuts with fewer aflatoxin problems. The previous season’s crop quality suffered because of the prolonged rains during the picking. Rains during the June and July spraying period have already caused farmers some problems.

The hazelnut production in Georgia faces challenges in the 2023 season, but there is hope for better quality and quantity than in 2022. Sales of newly harvested hazelnuts in green husk have already started on the local market, but exporters have not started buying yet. The average wholesale price for hazelnuts with green husk is 2-3 GEL/kg ($0.77-$1.16). The upcoming month of August is expected to see massive harvesting. Dry weather during the harvesting season will be crucial for obtaining quality hazelnuts with fewer aflatoxin problems. The previous season’s crop quality suffered because of the prolonged rains during the picking. Rains during the June and July spraying period have already caused farmers some problems.

The impact of the government’s support program, launched in 2022 to encourage farmers to spray their orchards, will also be visible in the 2023 season. However, industry insiders informed EastFruit that many recipients used the 500 GEL/ha subsidy (approximately $197) for orchards up to 3 hectares on other agricultural products instead of spraying products. This raises doubts about a significant improvement in hazelnut quality due to the program this season, although a slight positive effect is expected. Small-scale producers still lacked the motivation to care for their orchards, even with the subsidy, due to low prices in the previous season and pessimistic expectations for the upcoming one.

According to industry representatives, the state’s anti-BMSB (brown marmorated stink bug) campaign was more proactive this season, and they anticipate that quality problems due to stink bugs will be lower.

Read also: Turkish hazelnut market still halted, Georgian harvest set to begin early

Currently, mostly unripe hazelnuts with a moisture content of over 40% are being sold on the market, which is unsuitable for large buyers. Processing companies typically start buying when the moisture level falls below 30%, with the ideal moisture content being 20% for early crop. Representatives of processing companies are cautioned on price expectations, as the trend from the previous season is likely to continue, considering Turkey’s unsold stocks from last year and expectations of a good harvest this season, coupled with the devaluation of the Turkish Lira.

Overall, hazelnut industry representatives in Georgia anticipate a challenging season due to the global market crisis. They hope that prices will be stabilized at least on the levels from the previous season, and there is some optimism for better quality Georgian hazelnuts. However significant improvements in quality are not expected.

EastFruit

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