80 per cent fewer peaches are growing this year than average, and spring frosts have caused significant damage, according to the National Chamber of Agriculture (NAK) survey. Climate change is an increasing threat, and in the long run, the establishment of new, more resilient plantations, the optimisation of variety use, and the spread of modern cultivation methods cannot be avoided.
Farmers were able to report the April frost damage until May 17, said the Secretary of State for Agriculture and Rural Development at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoD) to Portfolio.hu.
As it turns out, peach and apricot yields are severely threatened this year.
NAK co-organised a peach trade meeting and variety presentation on June 25, 2021, in Torda, together with the Agricultural Genetic Resources Directorate (NÉBIH-MGEI) of the National Food Chain Safety Agency. Here, information was provided to farmers on modern variety use, treatment options for frost-damaged plantations, and modern cultivation systems.
Dr Béla Mártonffy, President of the National Department of Horticulture and Supplier Industry of NAK, emphasised:
Peach cultivation can be successful in Hungary, but only if the work is done in the right place, with the right variety and the right growing technology. Long-term global climate change is also a serious challenge for the horticultural sector, requiring the planting of more resilient fruit varieties. […]
Due to the extreme weather, it would be topical to rethink cultivation, to include varieties customary to the domestic climate, from which the varieties produced are better suited to domestic conditions.
The annual yield, which is strongly influenced by weather conditions, fluctuates, usually between 16 and 45 thousand tonnes. Most of the peach orchards are located in Csongrád (1,294 hectares), Pest (450 hectares), and Bács-Kiskun (394 hectares) counties. Significant production also takes place in Fejér (128 hectares), Somogy (136 hectares), Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg (174 hectares), and Heves (169 hectares) counties.
In Hungary, peach cultivation flourished in the 1970s when the area of commodity-producing peach orchards was about 13,000 hectares, which has been steadily declining since then and is now just over 3,000 hectares. Another problem is that the majority of the plantations are characterised by an outdated cultivation system and variety range. There are few new plantings, only a few 100 hectares in recent years.
In the coming years, the government will provide an outstanding amount of resources for the development and increase of the efficiency of agriculture, in the framework of which domestic fruit breeding may be re-strengthened, which is also called for by NAK. The renewal of the plantations is also supported by a large-scale tender, which also supports the establishment of new plantations and the replacement of existing ones.