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Apple orchards shrink in area for the next nine years

Posted March. 04, 2024 08:10,   

Updated March. 04, 2024 08:10


It is expected in a recent study that apple orchards the size of around 4,000 football fields will disappear over the next nine years as extreme weather events, including heat waves and torrential rain, cut back on apple yields.

According to an annual agricultural outlook report issued on Sunday by the Korea Rural Economic Institute, apple fields will likely decrease from 33,800 hectares this year by 2,900 hectares by 2033. That is, apple orchards the size of as many as 4,061 football fields will vanish over the upcoming nine years at an annualized rate of around one percent.

The institute’s report projects that the area of fully grown apple trees will decrease from 24,700 hectares last year to 22,800 hectares by 2033, attributing the change in the area to improvements in varieties, shutdowns of orchards along with population aging, and a transition to other farm produce.

With apple orchards shrinking in size, apple yields are also expected to decrease from 502,000 tons this year to 485,000 tons by 2033. Accordingly, the per capita consumption of apples will likely go down from 9.7 kilograms to 9.5 kilograms over the same period.

Apple production has declined since the 2020s as climate change has led to poor harvest during the apple growing period. Worse, things were harsher on apples last year amid unfavorable weather conditions, including cold damage and frost during spring, causing a sharp drop in yields by a whopping 30 percent compared to the earlier year. Not surprisingly, apple prices soared 29.3 percent over the past year. The fruit may sell for a higher price than now as planted areas shrink, leading to smaller yields.

세종=송혜미 1am@donga.com