Report: Turkish sweet cherry production forecast reaches 718,000 MT

Report: Turkish sweet cherry production forecast reaches 718,000 MT

The total cherry (sweet and sour) production forecast in Türkiye in Marketing Year (MY) 2023/24 is 900,000 metric tons (MT), which is 8 percent higher than MY 2022/23, due to favorable weather and soil conditions. As of early August 2023, cherry exports have reached 75,000 MT, and are on track to surpass the previous MY, according to the Stone Fruit Annual Report of the Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

PLANTING AREA

Türkiye is the world’s leading sweet cherry producer. Enjoying increasing demand from export markets in recent years, Turkish farmers have invested in new orchards, uprooted non-commercial varieties, and replanted tree varieties that are more competitive. There are also new investments being made in juice production.

Turkish sweet cherry planted area was on the rise a decade ago, however in recent years it has seen a slight decline (Figure 1). Post estimates the sweet cherry planted area at around 82,000 hectares (ha) and sour cherry planted area to stay around 20,000 ha in MY 2023/24. Total cherry planted area in MY 2023/24 is expected to be about 100,000 hectares, slightly less than MY 2022/2023. Overall, total planted area for cherries has decreased slightly since the record in MY 2017/18 (Figure 1).

Türkiye is the location of many valuable cherry genetic resources because of the fruit’s origin in
northern Anatolia1. There are more than 100 varieties of sweet cherries produced in Türkiye. The 0900 Ziraat variety, also known as the Turkish Napoleon, was developed in Türkiye and is the most popular because it meets the higher quality characteristics demanded by export markets. It is heart shaped, with pink and red fruit flesh, bright, firm, juicy, very large, suitable for transportation and has a long shelf life. However, producers have started to try new cherry varieties such as Sweetheart, Celeste, Early Lory, Kordia, Regina, Sam, and Sunburst for higher quality products, later harvests (to capture higher prices later in the season), and higher yields.

PRODUCTION
Sweet cherries are grown mainly in the Central Anatolia, Aegean, Marmara, and Mediterranean regions in Türkiye. Konya (10.3 percent), Izmir (10 percent), Bursa (9.2 percent), Manisa (7.3 percent), and Amasya (5.8 percent) are the top cherry producing provinces within these regions (Figure 7). The marketing year for cherries in Türkiye begins in late May and lasts through early August. The exact timing of the cherry season can vary depending on the region and weather conditions, but generally, the peak harvest period for cherries in Türkiye is in June. While the cherry harvest starts on the Aegean coast in Izmir in late May, it begins in June or July further inland in Afyon, Burdur, Salihli and Konya. Farmers harvest cherries in Kahramanmaras in August.

For the MY 2023/24 season, Post forecasts total cherry production to be 900,000 MT, of which 718,000 MT are sweet cherries (compared to the total production of 656,041 MT in MY 2022/23) and 182,000 MT are sour cherries, due to favorable weather and growing conditions.

Generally, the soil in major production areas received enough rain to achieve higher yields, and there was no frost damage this year. The only challenge this season for farmers was a delayed harvest due to the late arrival of warmer spring temperatures.

Strong export demand in recent years has been the driving force behind increased cherry production. Türkiye has been slowly transitioning from traditional to modern cherry production, including the development of modern, high-density orchards, using new cultivars, rootstocks, training systems, and growing techniques. However, most cherry production is still carried out using predominantly traditional methods among agricultural holdings operated by family-owned farms.

A relatively cheap labor force of seasonal workers and family-owned farms provides the advantage of a stable, affordable labor supply. Because of the growth in the export market, the production of Turkish sweet cherries increased by 24 percent from MY 2013/14 to MY 2022/23 (Figure 8). The increase in production of better-quality cherries to meet the specifications of export markets has also helped increase the quality of cherries for the domestic market.

CONSUMPTION
Over one hundred different varieties of cherries are consumed in many forms in Türkiye. Domestically, more than half of the sweet cherries produced in Türkiye are consumed fresh. Approximately 20 percent of all cherry production is used in the processing sector to make canned products, marmalades, frozen fruits, and juice. Most processed products are made from sour cherries. In MY 2023/24, domestic consumption is estimated to be approximately 823,000 MT, which is an increase of 48,100 MT compared to the previous marketing year.

TRADE
Türkiye exports more than 250,000 MT of stone fruit annually, with the majority going to the EU and Russia. Besides Türkiye, Chile, the United States, and Hong Kong are the other leading global exporters. Turkish exporters continue to seek expanded opportunities for stone fruit exports in South and East Asia. Türkiye’s exports of fresh cherries decreased in the last 2 years due to decreased production (Figure 10), however in MY 2023/24, Post estimates Türkiye’s fresh cherry exports to be 77,000 MT, an increase of around 33 percent compared to MY 2022/23’s export volume of 58,000 MT due to higher production and stable demand from EU countries.

See the complete report here

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