Sweet and early: good year for Dutch farmers

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Dutch fruit farmers say this year's crop will not only arrive in the shops early but it will also be exceptionally sweet. Spring in the Netherlands was dry, warm and very sunny this year and has produced an exceptionally sweet and tasty crop that has ripened earlier than normal.

According to Johan van Haarlem, who has extensive apple and pear orchards in the Betuwe, “pears haven't bloomed this early for at least a decade." He is expecting to harvest around 24 million apples and pears this year.

Pluckers Mr van Haarlem has already reserved seasonal workers from Poland to harvest his bumper crop but not all of the Netherlands’ fruit farmers can find enough people to gather the harvest. Rinnie Verbeek of Fruitmasters, a large fruit and vegetable distribution company, says that a crop that ripens early can cause problems for smaller growers: “they frequently depend on friends and family to get the harvest in and if the cherries are ripe when people are away on holiday, well, it can be difficult to find enough people to help.”

Too wet or too dry Mr Verbeek says fruit growing hasn’t gotten easier in recent years, “it’s either extremely wet or extremely dry, or the crop is ripe early or very late. It’s difficult to anticipate everything; fruit growing has turned into a sort of high stress sport.” However, Dutch fruit growers don’t have much to complain about this year, despite the recent poor weather: “Consumers shouldn’t worry, all this rain will make the pears I harvest in August extremely juicy,” predicts Mr van Haarlem.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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