- Exports in March were 7,084 tons tons, compared to 8,310 tons last year. A fall of 14.7%
- Year to date exports are 82,811 tons compared to 83,586 tons last year.
- Average price for whole apricots year to date is $2772 FOB compared to $2771 same period last year
May exports fell 15% mainly due to a lack of labor and logistics due to Corona Virus fears and quarantines. Never the less we are still on track to reach a total close to 100,000 tons and a tight transition to new crop, pending availability of labour and raw materials.
Bloom Complete – Late Frost – Brown Rot
Bloom is now complete. There was a second frost at the end of April that has affected late blooming orchards at altitudes above 1,200 meters. Bloom weather was pretty awful with a lot of rain. Initial reports are of a poor crop in terms of quantity, too early to put a number on it, but I suspect it is going to be less than the previous years crop.
There has also been a lot of disease in the orchards, mainly the fungal Brown Rot (Monilinia) this has particularly badly affected the organic orchards, with many being completely destroyed. There is speculation that increased instances and severity of fungal diseased are a result of global warming (milder winters over recent years) or faulty sprays. We have witnessed many dead orchards being pulled. An increasing number of organic farmers are giving up what appears to be an impossible battle.
Brown areas are dead apricot trees in orchards near Dogansehir
The Corona Virus Effects
Turkey did not have a comprehensive lock down, instead allowing most business to continue with increased social distancing, wide spread use of face masks, restriction of movements between provinces, closed borders and weekend curfews. Some workers preferred to stay home during April and the beginning of May and many businesses closed due to lack of demand, workers or raw materials. Virus spread appears to be slowing in Turkey, and a phased return to normal is expected during June and July.
Harvest in July will rely on a large influx of migrant seasonal workers for collection and hand pitting of the fruit, it is not clear yet if this will be allowed.
The Turkish economy was already weak, and the virus has had a serious effect on all sectors. The lira has weakened below Tl 7 to the $ and is at the time of writing this 7.10.
Over the past week there has been a sharp increase in raw material apricot prices. With the bloom complete and evidence of a short crop packers have been using the stimulus liquidity to mop up the last remaining stocks in growers and traders hands. There has also been some fresh demand for export. Initial feed back from retailers is of robust apricot sales through the lock down period, and significant weakness in the smaller food service sector.