Hot, dry weather during the spring means harvested volume in Italy’s leading production region could be half what they were last season

Italy Coldiretti Puglia cherry blossom

Image: Coldiretti Puglia

Cherry growers in the southern Italian region of Puglia have apparently lost a major slice of their production as a result of unusually hot and dry weather during the spring.

That’s according to Coldiretti Puglia, which estimated that more than half of the most common variety, Ferrovia, had been lost.

With another key variety, Bigarreau, also adversely affected, the group said the volume of fruit on the trees this season was around 50-60 per cent less than in 2023.

Just days on from Italy’s National Cherry Day, the shortfall is likely to mean a greater influx of imported cherries into the Italian market over the summer.

Puglia is Italy’s leading cherry production region. With around 19,000ha it accounts for just under two-thirds of the country’s total planted area and almost 40 per cent of its harvested volume at roughly around 35,000-40,000 tonnes. The fruit is also grown in Campania, Lazio, Veneto and Emilia Romagna.

As reported recently by Terra e Vita, Italy’s cherry industry faces a major challenge to reverse a decades-long decline in output.

An ongoing study by the Modena-based Provincial Phytosanitary Consortium and the University of Bologna, in collaboration with the Vignola PGI Cherry Consortium, as identified new methods of covered and organic production as potential ways out of that decline.

Covered production certainly proved its worth in May around Modena in northern Italy, where over 100mm of rain fell in two days and damaged open-field production.

Not everyone in the country is looking forward to this season with trepidation, however. Enrico Bucchi, general director of Valfrutta Fresco, told Italiafruit the Faenza-based marketer was looking forward to a positive campaign in 2024.

”As for quantities, this year we will return to our full production potential – equal to 3,000 tonnes – after a particularly deficient 2023,” he revealed.