French peach and nectarine volumes are expected to be back near their maximum potential this season following a 2018 campaign marred by frost damage to the flowers.
This was the message from the Medfel trade show in Perpignan, where Europêch’ forecast a 2019 crop of over 210,000 tonnes, up 17 per cent on last season.
Peach production is expected to rise by 15 per cent to almost 112,000t while the nectarine volume is forecast to exceed 98,000t, up 20 per cent.
Clingstone peaches, which are categorised differently and only account for a fraction of the total output, will be up one per cent to almost 5,400t.
So far this season, growers have benefitted from more mild conditions, with some plantations hit by frost but only in a handful of cases.
Trees flowered early and abundantly, leading to fears of significant thinning, however a subsequent drop in temperatures helped slow this process.
Barring a major weather event, volumes are expected to be close to their maximum potential, according to Europech, albeit three per cent lower than the 2013-17 average.
The organisation reported that considerable efforts have been made by the French stonefruit industry to improve product quality and collaborate in the planting of eco-friendly orchards.
This, as well as France’s high labour costs and drop in production in recent years, has contributed to a marked price difference on the French market between French stonefruit and imported product, mainly from Spain.
Despite their higher price tag, French peaches and nectarines continue to sell well on the domestic market thanks to the trend for French-grown produce.
According to Europêch’, this combination of factors has given new impetus to the French stonefruit sector. Orchard renewal rates are increasing and new plantations are appearing despite continued difficulties with Plum Pox Virus and finding suitable land in certain production areas.
A near 20-year decline in planted area for French peaches and nectarines appears to have finally stopped.