Hungary: For peach farmers, every year brings a new challenge

Can the farmers deal with these mortal risks?

Nectarine peaches in a bowl.
©Margo Lipa

Peach farming used to be a very strong sector in Hungary. It’s not surprising – The idyllic green plains in the center of the Carpathian basin used to be a region with mild springs, lots of sunshine in the summer, and a reasonable distribution of precipitation. In the 1970s, peach farming in Hungary reached its peak, with 13 thousand hectares of land covered in peach orchards.

However, the world changed, and so did the climate. For the past three years, every spring period has been frequently dotted with terrible cold snaps, each frost being nothing less than a miniature natural disaster, ravaging budding fruit trees and leaving terrible devastation behind in Hungary’s orchards. (See our earlier reports about the spring frost situation this spring, here and here.)

This trend is not entirely new though, and for years, the number of peach orchards has been declining. Right now, the total cultivation area is 3.8 thousand hectares.

With the current cultivation area, Hungary’s annual total peach yield is between 12 and 44 thousand metric tons. Last year, the country exported 681.3 tons of peach (including traditional peach and nectarine), while the import was 9.2 thousand tons.

According to the latest market data, this year’s first batch of domestic peach arrived at the Budapest Wholesale Market in the 25th week. While the price of the import produce increased by 14% to €2.85 per kilogram compared to its price in 2020, the producer price of domestic peaches rose this year by 45% to €3.16/kg.

Stakeholders agree that in the long run, only permanent solutions can help deal with adverse climate effects. These solutions include the optimization of crop structures and variety management but also the plantation of more resilient orchards. Unfortunately, since the sector has been in a decline for a while, not a lot of new planting took place recently – In the last few years, only 100 hectares of new orchards have been planted. This of course exacerbates the effect of negative factors, as Hungary’s peach plantations continue to age. But it is clear that the country’s peach farming will need an overhaul if farmers don’t want to see the next years’ harvests quite literally nipped in the bud.

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The Budapest-Belgrade team brings you curated newsflashes every Friday afternoon. These are quick, digestible, to-the-point briefings about all the latest developments in the Serbian and Hungarian agro sectors.

Today we bring you:

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In this week’s Serbia Newsflash, you can find out more about a new agro census, land ownership problems around cooperatives’ lands being bogged down in a legal gridlock, sad news about berry harvest, how the cereal prices are soaring, a recent green protest in Belgrade, and the confirmation of a favorable credit rating for Serbia.

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In the latest Hungary Newsflash, you can read about EU subsidy news, the future of farming in the face of climate change, a new irrigation infrastructure boost, a tick invasion and the dangers it poses, and a new tech for aquatic ecosystem-mapping