A lack of rain will result in smaller sized cherries this year, says Akin Soyleyen, marketing manager for Turkish exporter Aksun: “The weather has been ever changing since the last couple of years, which has resulted in different supply periods for fruits. This year has been no different in that sense, since we didn’t have enough rain, the least amount of rain compared to the past couple of years. Due to the weather conditions, we’re expecting the harvesting period to be a bit earlier for the early varieties. With the early harvest, prices are expected to start at a higher price level than usual. We also expect smaller than usual sizes, due to the shortage of rain this season.”
Thanks to new plantations in other areas, the cherry season will actually be extended, Soyleyen explains. “When it comes to other developments for cherry, there is an increasing plantation of new cherry varieties in Turkey, which results in a stretch of the harvesting period. This gives producers and exporters a longer season to sell their fruit. For our other stone fruits, we’re expecting to start the season with our greenhouse production in about a week. Currently the weather is favourable. We’ll start with the usual Trintina and Ninfa varieties, which will be followed by Donut Peaches. In June we will be starting our highly anticipated Sugar Apricots.”
Despite the crop not being larger or smaller than usual, the smaller sizes will lead to a decrease in total harvested cherries in weight, Soyleyen states: “For cherries, we’re expecting a normal crop this year. However, the sizing of the fruit will be smaller than usual, which will result in a drop in volume in terms of total weight. Our expectations for the overall season are high, if we can overcome some of the challenges related to smaller sized fruits. That being said, we are also dependent on the competition like Spain for EU and California for FEA. It will be crucial for us to see their season expectations. Especially with the devastating storms hitting California this year, we need to wait and see how their crops will come out of those weather issues to determine our expectations for the season.”
Soyleyen feels that Aksun shouldn’t chase growth in terms of volumes at the cost of losing quality. “We will be focusing on our programs for our regular clients in EU and Asia. Our goal is not to drive as many volumes to the market as possible, but be cautious and try to maximize the fulfilment of existing customer expectations. We came to understand after years of trial and error that the market drivers for cherries are very different to other items we are handling. And so, we have to be much more concentrated if we are to deliver all of our promises to our clients.”
Aksun has also entered into a partnership with blueberry growers this season: “In other news, we now have a partnership with the blueberry growers, Qualitas Berry in Antalya. We’ll be playing a role to market their blueberry crops starting this year. We’re working hand in hand with them for the establishment of their project for sorting, cooling and the marketing side,” Soyleyen concludes.
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