Early vegetable crop harvest this year around half usual volume

Vegetable harvests in South Estonia are poor this year.
Vegetable harvests in South Estonia are poor this year. Source: ERR

The harvesting of early vegetable varieties will be scanty this year, thanks to a cold spring and long period of drought, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Monday.

The harvest is this year likely to be around a half to two-thirds of usual volumes, Mirjam Mõttus reported from Navi, Võru County.

Vegetable growers there acknowledge that while yields arising from early varieties have been one-third to one-half lower than usual, the final assessment for the year can only be made in autumn, once the late varieties have been harvested as well.

However, the early signs are not good.

Jaanus Trolla, owner of the Ilumäe farm told AK what the effect of the cold and dry weather has had on his beet fields.

"It's been an extreme year," Trolla said.

"For example, this beet field - some of the vegetables are still coming up or have already done so, while others already have had to be harvested. But you can't do that with a combine harvester, you have to do it by hand, which requires a huge effort," he went on.

Meanwhile at the nearby Jaagumäe farm, nearly 100 hectares is set aside for vegetable cultivation. Farm owner Tarmo Timm says they have never had as much trouble as they do now.

"At the same time, we had a drought, concurrent with night frosts, significant insect and weed damage, meaning that the combined effect of all of these led to one of the most difficult years for selling early produce that we have ever had," Timm said.

Ville Pak, one of the managers at the Kadarbiku farm in Harju County – in fact Estonia's largest vegetable grower, painted a similar picture.

He said: "We had to irrigate the crops through the whole of June and carry out weeding by hand, because the herbicides had not had such a strong effect, though we can still manage."

It is the fight against weeds that has turned out to be the biggest challenge for farmers - the work is hard and finding people to do it is even harder.

Jaanus Trolla said back-breaking weeding work of a kind not seen for around 15 years ago was needed, though no extra labor had been drafted in to accomplish this.

Tarmo Timm said that in any case, finding laborers with the fitness and stamina to undergo such work was not easy nowadays.

Ville Pak said meanwhile that workforce agencies had been pressed into action on her farm, in an effort to right the situation.

As to whether these difficulties will find their way to the consumer via higher prices, Trolla said that since two-thirds of the companies produce as sent to the supermarkets came from abroad, any inflation would be mostly driven by that source.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Mirjam Mõttus.

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