“They’re already rotten, so we throw them away”: a particularly tough season for strawberry growers

Recent rainy weather has had a severe impact on strawberry cultivation in Belgium, with losses currently estimated at 15%. A producer’s visit to Lesve allows you to see the extent of the damage.

It’s not just willpower that fails this time: strawberries too. They have been hit hard by the late rains. Some of them rot before ripening. Losses are currently estimated at 15%, but could more than triple if the weather does not improve.

Our RTL News team met a producer in Lesve near Profondeville. There, workers favor the harvest. Busy filling the trays, first sort the strawberries, discarding the damaged ones. And often completely rotten. Some don’t have time to mature. “They’re still green, but they’re already rotten, so we throw them away.”A distraught Sebastien Noel. “Here the rotten one has touched the beautiful red and it’s rotten too. Sad…. sad, such a climate.”

To minimize the damage, the producer treated his layers more, but it was not enough. “It rains every year, but it doesn’t rain all the time, it’s gray all the time, never sunny…”

Despite being closed, tunnels were also damaged. “We leave it open for ventilation, so if there’s sun, it doesn’t get too hot inside. But the rain washes the whole line from the edge, so at least half the strawberries are rotten. Half of it or in the middle.”

Sebastien Noel’s fear: That the rain will continue. “The exteriors are really going to be this week and next week.”He explains. “If it rains continuously, we’ll be talking about 50% rotten outdoor strawberries.”

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This weather also has flavor effects. A lack of sun makes strawberries less sweet and less flavorful.

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