The Swiss Fruit Association (SOV) has opened the Swiss cherry season in Leuggern (AG). In the presence of government official Markus Dieth, the association emphasized the innovative strength of the industry and held out the prospect of an excellent cherry year in 2022: the Swiss population can look forward to over 2,500 tons of outstanding quality cherries in 2022.
Swiss cherry production has experienced a tremendous surge in innovation in recent years. Modern low-stem systems have become established and ensure high-quality fruit. Netting and weather protection have become indispensable, as they protect the crops in a sustainable way and greatly minimize the use of pesticides. Producers have thus responded to the increased demands of consumers, society and politics. Markus Dieth, member of the Aargau cantonal government, paid tribute to this innovative strength at the start of the Swiss cherry season on the joint farm of Urs Zeder and Reto Erne in Leuggern (AG). At the same time, he emphasized the importance of fruit growing for the canton of Aargau. This is the fourth largest fruit-growing canton in Switzerland and has an annual gross crop yield of around 30 million Swiss francs.
An excellent cherry year in 2022
Cherry production is already in full swing. The Swiss Fruit Association expects a good harvest of over 2500 tons of cherries of outstanding quality in 2022. The harvest is 25 percent above the average of the last five years. This means that 2022 is continuing a success story: the value added by Swiss cherry production has doubled in the last 20 years and now amounts to around 20 million Swiss francs. This has happened in a greatly changed environment: while demand for distilled cherries has fallen from 10,000 tons to a third in the last 25 years, the market volume of table cherries has risen to around 6,000 tons today. The degree of self-sufficiency is around 50 percent.
Standing still is not an option
The positive development of cherry cultivation cannot be taken for granted. Weather extremes have increased massively in recent years, and in 2017 and 2021 crop failures due to late frosts were significant. In addition, with the increase in cross-border trade, new invasive pest pathogens have spread. At the same time, fruit growers are being called upon to significantly reduce the use of pesticides. In order to master this Herculean task, fruit growers are dependent on support. Bruno Eschmann, President of the Product Center for Cherries and Plums at SOV, therefore appealed to politicians and scientists: "We need massive investment in practical and economical crop protection to continue the success story. For our part, we immediately implement new findings and invest significantly in even more sustainable cultivation."