French apple producers have fared somewhat better than most of their European counterparts this season, despite the excessive temperatures experienced towards the end of July. “It should be a good year,” states Daniel Sauvaitre, president of the national association for apples and pears (ANPP). “There is always the risk of oversupply, where everyone loses, but the European crop will be smaller this year.”
Indeed, while the European apple crop is forecast to come in at approximately 10.5m tonnes, down from last year’s total of 13.2m tonnes, French apple volumes are forecast to rise 12 per cent to 1.65m tonnes. However, it is important to note that these figures, presented at last week’s Prognosfruit conference in Belgium, are all expected to drop following July’s soaring temperatures.
However, Marc Rauffet, president of French grower Innatis remains upbeat. “The outlook following the heat wave looks positive,” he said. “Royal Galas are a little smaller, but there has been no effect on other varieties. In July, we were concerned about the impact of the sun, but there will not be too much damage. In late July and early August, the night time temperatures were favourable for the fruit.”
Speaking in early August, Rauffet concluded that, should weather conditions remain relatively normal for the rest of the growing season, France would enjoy a good harvest close to the average, or even slightly above average in the Loire valley.
“The trees haven’t suffered,” he said. “It’s good to see branches sprouting dynamically, showing that the orchard is in good health, which is the most important thing.”
In terms of sales, Innatis remains faithful to its domestic market, which is showing growth. “Continental Europe always has good demand for early apples, especially our club varieties Honeycrunch, Choupette, Pink Lady, Joya and Lolipop,” he revealed. “We are also targeting Asia, the Middle East and South America. Meanwhile, our British friends will still be demanding our apples, I’m sure.”