The melon season is drawing to a close in France but the apple harvest has begun in earnest, with some producers in southern regions eyeing a bumper crop thanks to the heatwave in late June.
In Tarn-et-Garonne – France’s leading apple producer – the harvest promises to be excellent thanks also to the absence of major frosts in April. Gala apples - always early growers - are ready for picking there now, ten days earlier than usual.
European Union producers have suffered from a drop in fruit volumes because of bad weather, which could mean good news for French growers.
“Germany, Belgium and Poland have experienced a lot of cold spells so it is hoped that [increased] prices will follow,” said Yvon Sarraute, a producer in Meauzac.
This means less competition for the French producer, who should be able to sell his apples for twice the price of last year’s pommes: €1.90 a kilo for the first Galas.
Meanwhile in Ille-et-Villaine, Brittany, picking has also begun early. “We are two or three weeks ahead of our usual harvest,” said Sylvie, the manager of the Vergers de l’Ille, located in Saint-Grégoire, north of Rennes.
The advanced harvest is due, in part, to the weather. “We had a beautiful cold winter, so as soon as the first heat arrived, the flowering was a bit more advanced than in the previous years. This is a bit paradoxical because, if it is too cold, the frost attacks the flower buds, but if the winter is not cold enough, the flowering is unregulated.”
Josselin Saint-Raymond, Director of the National Association of Apple and Pear Producers (ANPP), told Ouest France that because of the European Union’s lowest harvest since 2007 – Poland, the leading producer, suffered a 29% drop in its crop compared to 2016 – and an overall predicted drop of 8% in the French harvest, apples would be rarer in France than at any time in the last 10 years.
However, Mr Saint-Raymond promised that the consumer in France will not want for apples. “Let the consumer be reassured,” he said. “The French market will be supplied as normal. We will make an effort to supply the French market first.”