Last year, Finland produced a total of 311 million kilos of vegetables, berries and fruit. This volume was slightly lower than in 2019. The number of horticultural enterprises totalled 3,337, having nearly 20,000 hectares of fields and 390 hectares of greenhouses. The harvest year was unusual in many ways because the decreased availability of seasonal workforce due to the coronavirus situation challenged outdoor horticultural production, in particular. What is more, 2020 was the hottest year in the recorded history.
In greenhouse production, the workforce situation was better because non-Finnish workers stayed in Finland with long-term work permits. While the aim was to take care of necessary work, new crops and harvesting, the impact of the management of perennial crops will extend to the current season. The coronavirus year was not reflected in cultivation areas. In fact, the outdoor area increased slightly.
“During this growing season, horticultural enterprises aim to be better prepared for any challenges in the availability of seasonal workforce, and the Finnish Government has defined necessary work carried out for outdoor and greenhouse production to be critical considering the security of supply. Nevertheless, the situation will also be challenging at the beginning of this growing season”, says Anna-Kaisa Jaakkonen, senior statistician at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
Greenhouse cucumber broke an all-time record – 54 million kilos
Production volumes of tomato and greenhouse cucumber have traditionally been fairly even but, in recent years, cucumber has gained a clear lead. The production of greenhouse cucumber increased by six million kilos from 2019, showing an increase of up to twelve per cent. Increases in eating at home increased the consumption of domestic cucumber. However, the coronavirus year was difficult for many enterprises specialising in products intended for institutional kitchens because they had to quickly rethink their sales channels.
In the production of tomato, the range of varieties was expanded to special tomatoes with lower yields, with these accounting for 6.3 million kilos of the total production of 41 million kilos. A total of 104 million potted vegetables were produced.
The long and warm autumn increased the outdoor vegetable yield, but caused problems with storage
In 2020, total outdoor vegetable production was 185 million kilos, nearly four million kilos lower than in the previous year. Root vegetables and cabbages produced high harvest levels, with the long and warm season in late autumn increasing not only the yield of storage vegetables, but also their size. The harvesting of storage vegetables had to be postponed in many places because the warm weather prevented stocks from being cooled effectively.
“Now, the carrots and cabbages that are available on the market are larger than normal”, Jaakkonen says.
Last autumn, precipitation was higher than normal in nearly all parts of the country, and new rainfall records were reached in many parts of the Ostrobothnian coast, in particular. They also damaged harvests. Garden pea, onion and outdoor cucumber harvests were lower than in the previous year.
Tunnel production of berries continues to increase
The volume of strawberries available for sale was more than 15 million kilos, that of raspberries was 1.3 million kilos and that of blackcurrants was 1.1 million kilos. The total berry harvest amounted to 18 million kilos. The strawberry harvest was 2.5 million kilos lower than in the previous year. The low harvest levels can partly be explained by the shortage of berry pickers and partly by the heavy rainfall during the harvest season. Last year, the total tunnel production area for berries was already 81 hectares, of which strawberries accounted for 44 and raspberries 34 hectares.
Tulips and summer flowers produced in greenhouses
Last year, ornamental plants were produced over an area of 114 hectares in 434 enterprises. Up to 73 million tulips and 41 million summer flowers were produced for sale. More than a million seedlings of useful plants were grown for non-professional uses.
“This year also seems to favour eating, spending holidays and gardening at home, as well as the growing of edible plants. All of these have a positive impact on domestic horticultural production”, Jaakkonen says in conclusion.