HomeNewsFrosts in Poland, Serbia, and Central Asia. Should we expect a low raspberry harvest and high prices?
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Frosts in Poland, Serbia, and Central Asia. Should we expect a low raspberry harvest and high prices?

At the end of last week, an article was published in the Polish segment of the Internet with an analysis of the state of raspberry plantations in Poland by a local expert Pavel Kravets. Based on his observations on his farm, P. Krawiec reported serious problems with raspberry plantations in Poland, which could significantly affect the harvest this year. EastFruit tried to figure out what the fall in raspberry production in Poland could lead to, and what the situation in the raspberry segment is in other countries of the project.

Poland

The article touches on the state of raspberry plantations on only one farm, which belongs to P. Kravets. It is located in the Lublin Voivodeship, where, according to various estimates, about 70% of all raspberry production in Poland is concentrated. There is also no reason to assume that an expert’s farm is in any way strikingly different from others in the same region. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that extrapolating the situation in one farm to the entire production region always carries the risk of errors.

According to P. Krawiec, the owners of tunnel greenhouses in Poland were forced to dismantle the covering film and parts of the greenhouse structures because of the threat of their collapse due to winter snowfalls. By the way, in some cases, greenhouses did collapse, as, for example, on the expert’s farm.

As a result, plants in greenhouses spent the winter without shelter, which caused damage to the plantations even in winter. Further, the air temperature in the Lublin Voivodeship at night fell below zero for several days in early April, and at the surface, it could reach -7 degrees Celsius. As a result, significant frostbite of flower buds was noted on the farm of Pavel Kravets, and for some varieties, it reached 75-95%.

Serbia

At the end of last week, reports about the adverse impact of weather conditions began to come from Serbia, as well. According to Aleksandar Leposavich (a well-known expert on the fruit and vegetable market in the Balkans), a warm winter in April was followed by snowfalls and a drop in air temperature. As a result, crops that were in the flowering stage or close to it, in particular stone fruits and pears, suffered the most. Damage to raspberry plantations is still minor, but due to sudden temperature changes on plantations, the spread of various diseases can be noted. So, it is too early to talk about serious damage to raspberry production in Serbia, but there is a certain negative effect on the harvest.

Ukraine and Moldova

“In the first half of April, there were short frosts at night in the western and northern regions of Ukraine. The maximum thermometers dropped to -5 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, the flowering phase in the raspberry segment begins at the end of April, and therefore it is the May frosts that cause the main damage to its plantations. In the meantime, it’s too early to talk about any significant damage, although the danger to part of the crop is still not over,” Oleksandr Khorev, head of the APK-Inform: Vegetables and Fruits project, comments on the situation in Ukraine.

As for Moldova, the current state of raspberry plantations there is similar to what is observed in Ukraine. According to local industry experts, there was no freezing of buds in the farms of the largest production cluster (the village of Pokrovka), but, just like in Ukraine, everything can still change.

It should be noted that in most cases we are talking about raspberries grown in an open field in Ukraine and Moldova. For example, in Moldova, the first commercial raspberries in greenhouses will be harvested only in 2023, and, according to preliminary data, they may become available on the Moldovan market n the first half of June.

Read also: Raspberry price cycles and forecasts for 2023

Caucasus and Central Asia

Local participants in the berry market of Tajikistan report that the air temperature in January could drop to -22 degrees Celsius, which caused irreparable damage to plantations of raspberries and some other berries. According to various estimates, 20-30% of raspberries at local farms are frozen, and the blackberry crop is almost totally lost. As a result, a full-scale harvest of remontant raspberries in the country is expected no earlier than in August. Similar is noted in Uzbekistan.

As for Georgia, the weather factor has not yet brought unpleasant surprises to local raspberry farmers, but the sector itself will be subject to the same problems that have hindered its development in the past. Lack of experience in growing raspberries in new production regions, problems with planting care, and a significant share of old varieties in production will remain key factors in the development of the raspberry business in the country. Therefore, based on the trends of past years, one should not expect strong growth in the raspberry harvest in Georgia, and, according to preliminary estimates, production will remain at the level of 2022.

The current state of affairs and preliminary forecasts

As of now, there is a negative impact of winter and spring weather on raspberry plantations in Poland, Serbia, and Central Asian countries, while plantations in Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia were practically not affected by frost.

The fall in raspberry production in the countries of Central Asia will have a minor effect on the global trade in raspberries. Uzbekistan exported only 1 100 tonnes of frozen raspberries last year, of which only 117 tonnes were not intended for the markets of Russia or Kazakhstan. The exports of raspberries from Tajikistan, meanwhile, remain even less significant than in Uzbekistan and reach only a few tens of tonnes.

Meanwhile, the situation in Poland, Serbia, and Ukraine can seriously change the global raspberry market since they were the first, second, and third global frozen raspberry exporters in 2022. In addition, there are reports from at least two of these countries about the possible loss of part of the crop due to the weather.

However, when analyzing the situation in Poland, Serbia, and Ukraine, three important factors must be considered. Firstly, the time of possible May frosts, which usually cause the main damage to raspberry producers, is still ahead. Therefore, as of today, we can only talk about a partially negative impact of the weather on the harvest.

Secondly, the market for frozen raspberries in Europe is now in crisis, prices for the finished products are not growing, and transitional stocks of frozen berries remain at record-high levels. Therefore, the factor of a possible exaggeration of crop losses by farmers, who may thus try to influence the market on the eve of the start of the new season, cannot be ruled out.

Currently, it is too early to consider the damage from frosts in key producing countries catastrophic, and their effect can most likely be offset by record transitional stocks of frozen raspberries in freezing storages. At the same time, “factor number three” is already affecting the European raspberry market.

In this case, we are talking about a ban on the import and transit of agricultural products (including frozen berries) from Ukraine, introduced on April 16 by Poland, which was soon joined by Hungary and Slovakia. Similar measures are also being discussed in Romania, Bulgaria, and several other countries. It paralyzed the exports of Ukrainian frozen raspberries at the end of last week because Poland not only bought more than half of raspberry exports but also provided transit for Ukrainian products to other EU countries.

The ban will be in effect until June 30, which will put serious pressure on prices for last year’s stocks of frozen raspberries in Ukraine during this period. In addition, the very fact of a rather unexpected introduction of such restrictions by neighboring countries in the future will be laid down in the risks of processors, because now no one can guarantee that these measures cannot be returned after June 30. This factor, together with the “second raspberry boom”, will remain a key reason for pressure on prices for raspberries of a new crop in Ukraine in the coming season.

EastFruit

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