Apples from Europe – high quality apples


The elements of nature - the everyday life of a fruit grower. About threats to orchards.

Fruit growing is one of the most important agricultural sectors in Europe, and fruit from orchards is an important product in human nutrition. However, orchard crops in Europe are exposed to threats related to the elements of nature, which have constituted a big problem for fruit growers for centuries. Currently, due to climate change, it is common for these elements to make themselves felt in an increasingly intense and unpredictable way. In this article, we will present the threats to which fruit crops in the European Union are exposed and how they can be combated.


The elements of nature, such as storms and hail, are inherent phenomena in orchards and can pose a serious threat to culture and crops. Storms, especially those with strong winds and heavy rains, can cause significant damage to trees and shrubs, as well as destroy ripe fruit. In addition, they can damage and destroy structures in orchards. Strong winds uproot trees and can break concrete posts. In addition, they contribute to the occurrence of diseases and pests, which further weakens the plants. There are no methods that would protect orchards against storms, but proper agricultural technology, pruning and orchard management can reduce the effects of this element of nature.


Hail is another danger that often occurs in orchards – especially in the summer time. Hail is a precipitation with special properties. The term hail (hailstones) should be understood as ice blocks of irregular shape, the diameter of which exceeds 5 mm. The damage it causes depends on the size of the balls and how long it lasts. Hail damage can crack the skin of the fruit, damage the leaves, and in extreme cases, completely destroy the trees. Hail storms are the most dangerous for fruit growers’ crops. An effective method of protecting orchards against hail are anti-hail nets (anti-hail structures), which are extended over tree crowns, thus protecting trees and fruit from hail. Another way is to use anti-hail cannons. They create high-energy shock waves that prevent droplets from turning into ice crystals.


Due to climate change, droughts are becoming more frequent in Europe, which can cause serious damage to orchards, as well as affect harvest quality and quantity. Droughts are dangerous for orchards, especially in summer, when they occur most often. In periods of prolonged drought, trees stop growing and lose their leaves. This often leads to drying of trees and increasing the effects of fungal diseases. However, this can be prevented by irrigating trees with drip systems or rainwater tanks. This allows for better control of the tree irrigation system, enabling optimal use of water. Orchard crops require constant irrigation. In order to minimize the risks resulting from the action of elements of nature, orchard producers should use appropriate plant protection products and monitor the condition of crops. It is also worth investing in irrigation systems, which will allow for a quick response in the event of a lack of water in the soil.

Frost and spring frosts

Fruit trees are most resistant to frost during winter dormancy. In spring, with the beginning of vegetation, the plants begin the process of dehardening. This is when they are most vulnerable to adverse weather conditions. Among other things, plant resistance to rapid temperature drops is reduced, i.e. spring frosts, which are one of the greatest threats to fruit orchards. Frost falls mainly in spring, when sometimes the trees are already developing young flower buds or leaves that are very delicate. Frost occurs when the average daily temperature is positive and the minimum temperature drops below 0°C (usually at night or in the morning). Spring frosts in the orchard can do a lot of damage. They may result in frozen flowers or fruit buds. They can also cause leaves and young shoots to brown. Strong frosts damage tree bark, thus creating a place for plant infection by diseases. As a result of damage caused by frost, fruit growers get a smaller and lower-quality crop. In apple orchards, frost damage can be prevented in several ways. First of all, planting orchards in depressions should be avoided. Trees should be planted in places sheltered from the wind. It is also recommended to choose apple varieties with a later flowering time. Methods of heating the air or smoke can be additionally used.

Diseases and pests

Orchards in Europe are exposed to various adverse external factors, including pests. The biggest enemy in fruit orchards are pests that cause a lot of damage. These include various species of aphids, fruit flies, leafroller moths, psylloidea, San Jose scale and red spider mites. Another threat are diseases of fruit trees, which can be caused by fungi, bacteria and viruses. Sometimes the causes of diseases may also be non-infectious factors, such as macro- and micronutrient deficiencies or unfavourable growing conditions. Typical symptoms of diseases are discoloration, distortion and wilting of plants. Despite the use of plant protection products, new pests and diseases are still appearing. Currently, all fruit producers in Europe are bound by the principles of integrated pest management. They involve the use of all available plant protection methods, in particular non-chemical ones. The application of the principles of integrated pest management allows to reduce the use of chemical plant protection products and thus reduces their impact on the natural environment and protects its biodiversity. Agricultural technology methods (correct crop rotation, pH, abundance of easily assimilable nutrients), cultivation methods (optimal selection of highly resistant and highly tolerant varieties) and biological methods (use of biological agents and beneficial entomofauna) are of great importance. When protecting plants against pests, one should always remember that preventing diseases and pests is not only an expense, but above all an investment in healthy and fruitful trees.

While threats from the elements of nature are unavoidable, European growers must use strategies and methods to minimize risk and losses. It is extremely important to use appropriate methods of protection and care for fruit trees to ensure high harvest quality and quantity.