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Swiss farmers expect meagre fruit harvest after losses

As much as a third of this year's Swiss apple crop may have been damaged in a late April frost Keystone

An unusual end-of-April frost is expected to cost Swiss fruit producers some CHF100 million ($102 million) in damages and as much as three-quarters of their crop this year.

“We are talking about historic crop losses,” said Hubert Zufferey of the Swiss fruit growers’ association on Wednesday. Switzerland’s apple farmers are expected to take a CHF42 million hit amounting to about a third of their crop and cherry farmers will likely harvest just a quarter of their normal 3000-ton crop, according to the association.

Plum producers are anticipating losing 67% of their normal production and about half as many apricots as usual will be harvested, early estimates show. Small fruits like berries are less affected, though about 20% of the strawberry crop could see damages. 

Switzerland experienced sudden cold weather and mountain snow in late April following an unseasonably warm spell, which damaged many plants just beginning to bloom. The damage to fruit crops varies significantly depending on the region, with just 5-10% of the apple crop in canton Valais affected compared to 80% in central Switzerland. 

Fallout for the Swiss wine crop is not yet entirely clear, but estimates in late April pointed to about 40% of vineyards in canton Valais seeing damage and potential danger to 10-20% of the total Swiss wine harvest.

About 4,300 farms cultivate fruit on 7,500 hectares of land in Switzerland, while the country’s wine-growing surface covers approximately 15,000 hectares (the size of Alsace). Vineyards are found in practically all of the 26 cantons, in highly variable quantities. The country is subdivided into six official winegrowing regions: Valais (5,113 hectares), Vaud (3,838), German-speaking Switzerland (2,593), Geneva (1,297), Ticino (1,065) and the Three-Lakes region (940).

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR