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Plant Production

CEREALS

At the start of the nineties, cereal production underwent a very difficult period. As a result of social changes, transformation, privatisation and a number of other causes, the average yields per hectare decreased significantly, as did the production of all cereals compared to the results of harvests in the European Union.

In recent years, this sector of plant production has gradually started to stabilise. In 2016 the overall acreage of arable land taken up by cereals was 46 %. Compared to the previous year it is a drop by about 1 %. Although cereal production has quantity variations depending on the weather, its average for the 2006–2016 period was 7 696 000 tonnes, which is more than sufficient for domestic consumption.

The most important cereal grains grown in the CR is winter wheat. It has a dominant position on the market, making up about 60 % of all cereals. It is used to produce food, feed mixtures, is the raw material for producing bio-ethanol and is an important export crop. The total area under wheat (winter and spring) in 2016 was almost 840 000 ha and production reached 5 455 000 tonnes.

As concerns the barley mix, spring malting barley predominates, which is a typical Czech export commodity (malt, beer and grain for malting). It has a 5% share of the total world export of malt. In 2016, spring barley was sown on an area of 221 700 ha and its production was 1 208 000 tonnes.

In the CR there is ever-rising interest in cultivating grain maize. Over the past 20 years, its production has grown more than seven-fold. In 2016, farmers harvested 846 000 tonnes of maize from 86 400 ha. In the context of the use of genetically modified organisms, Bt maize has been grown in the CR for production purposes since 2005. However, this represents a marginal share of total agricultural production and its acreage in 2016 was only 75 ha.

OILSEEDS

Among the crops grown in the CR, oilseeds take up a significant position, which stems from their high demand on the market, both domestic and foreign. The advantages for cultivating oilseeds in the CR are the favourable climatic conditions and well-mastered large-scale production technology.

Oilseeds


Compared with the early 1990s, the area under oilseeds has increased more than threefold. In 2010, oilseeds were grown on the biggest surface area ever, 490 000 ha. In the following five years, the area of oilseeds fluctuated, in 2016, a total of 470 000 ha was sown. The most commonly cultivated oilseed in the CR is oilseed rape, which comprises approximately 84 % of the oilseeds grown. On average, about 27 % of the domestic production of oilseed rape is exported from the CR. An average of 27 % (the average for the last 5 years) of domestic production of oilseed rape is used for food purposes. From 2011, a drop was noted in the area used to grow sunflowers (28 000 ha) to less than 16 000 ha in 2016. Due to the higher market prices, the area of poppy increased from 18 000 ha in 2012 to almost double that, 36 000 ha, in 2016.

LEGUMES

The CR has a long tradition of growing legumes; however, in recent years their area has declined. Only a few species of legumes are currently grown in the CR. This primarily concerns green pea and, in smaller volumes, soybeans and lupins. Other species, i.e. broad bean, vetches, beans and other legumes previously grown are presently only grown on very small areas. The acreage of grain legumes in the CR in 2016 was 35 633 ha, which represents almost 1.2 % of the arable land.

POTATOES

Potatoes are among the traditional Czech crops. They contain significant amounts of polysaccharides, suitable as a source of energy; they have some of the nutritionally most valuable proteins of plant origin and contain almost no fat. They have high vitamin content, especially vitamin C and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, iron and phosphorus. They are a rich source of antioxidants, which protect the human body against the effects of free radicals.

In 2016 potatoes were grown in the Czech Republic on an area of 29 500 ha with an average yield of 28 t/ha, with over 23 400 ha in the agricultural sector and over 6 000 ha in the household sector. A total of 831 000 tonnes of potatoes were harvested, of which over 42 000 tonnes of early potatoes, over 719 000 tonnes of other potatoes and over 69 000 tonnes of seed potatoes. In the same year 204 000 tonnes were imported into the CR and just under 44 000 tonnes were exported.

SUGAR, SUGAR BEET

The Czech Republic has a long tradition of sugar beet cultivation and sugar production within Europe, that being from the very start of sugar beet cultivation and the sugar industry. Sugar production started in the Czech Republic 230 years ago. These results rank the Czech Republic
among the most productive Member States of the European Union; it is fully self-sufficient in sugar production and a net exporter of sugar.

The 2017/2018 marketing year will be a historic turning point for the sugar sector after 49 years of production quotas. The production quota of the Czech Republic came to 372 459.207 tonnes and was divided among the five sugar factories, that being since the 2008/2009 marketing year when the EU sugar market was reformed. The system for the common organisation of the sugar markets will be retained in a significantly reduced form. There will be an end to: the sugar production quota, the minimum price for sugar beet, the above-quota system for sugar and sugar factories will stop paying the sugar production charge. It will be possible to export any amount of sugar; the WTO export limit of 1.35 million tonnes of sugar will no longer apply.

SUGAR BEET


Sugar beet cultivation and sugar production recorded a very good result in the 2016/2017 marketing year, primarily due to favourable weather conditions throughout the growing season. As concerns sugar production alone, the largest quantity was produced since the EU accession, 592 656 tonnes. There was also an increase in the area under sugar beet after a previous drop caused by long-term drought. Sugar beet was grown on an area of 52 340 hectares.

FRUIT

The main fruit species grown on our territory are apples, as well as sour cherries, plums, apricots, pears, cherries and currants. Traditionally, a large percentage of the Czech population has grown its own fruit; self-sufficiency is about 30–40 % of total fruit production in the CR.

Recently the total area of orchards in the CR has seen a continuous decrease and currently stands at an average of 20 000 ha, which yield around 310 000 tonnes of fruit. However, productive fruit orchards, whose area has been reduced and currently attains 13 400 ha, are decisive for growing consumer (market) fruit. The production of fruit from these orchards is in the range of 140 000– 180 000 tonnes depending on the weather.

The decline in the area of productive fruit orchards is due to setting new subsidy conditions and tightening the definition of the “orchard” culture in the LPIS soil register (where, for example, the number of individuals necessary to be included in the soil block identified as orchard has changed). Therefore, some orchards were taken out of the records on productive orchards. In addition, a number of growers actually grubbed up their old plantings. On the other hand removing the non-fruiting plantings from orchards means an increase in the overall average yields of fruits. The main fruit species in the CR are apples where the area of orchards has dropped to 6 885 hectares. The largest fall in the area cultivated is demonstrated by peaches, apricots, as well as cherries and currants. Fruit species showing a better outlook are pear trees and plums, where new orchards and those at the start of fruitage make up 24 % and 31 % respectively of the total area of fruit plantings. For apple trees, less than 12 % of the areas fall into these two orchard categories, almost 54 % of apple orchards are over-mature.

The CR is endeavouring to alleviate this unfavourable state of affairs by the long-term support for planting new fruit orchards within the state subsidy policy. In the period from 1994 to 2016 there was a total of 12 984 ha of newly planted orchards in production, of which 10 328 ha obtained state support. As a result, the percentage of over-mature orchards has decreased slightly and the percentage of young orchards and those at the start of fruitage has increased.

Fruit


Currently a total of 351 members, with a total area of orchards and nurseries of almost 9 930 hectares, are involved in integrated pest management for fruit growing (IPMF) in the CR. The objective of IPMF is mainly to protect the natural environment of the orchard and the living organisms that occur in it, ensuring the species diversity of the naturally occurring or introduced animal and plant species in orchards and their surroundings.

VEGETABLES

For a long time now the areas for growing vegetables have been stagnant. The reason is strong competition from vegetables imported from abroad at lower prices and low domestic efficiency in vegetable production. Likewise, the extent of vegetable growing and its profitability are significantly affected by the prices of agricultural vegetable producers, which have recently shown a downward trend.

The 2016 season was one of the successful ones for the vegetable sector. The area being used to grow vegetables increased year-on-year by 9 % to 14 500 ha, that being primarily for peas, tomatoes, cabbage and pickling cucumbers. The production of vegetables came to 298 600 tonnes, which is a 21% increase compared to the weaker harvest in 2015. Almost all the vegetable species monitored showed an increase in production, except for kohlrabi, cauliflower, lettuce.

With changing lifestyles and new trends in eating, the consumption of the vegetable species that take time to prepare in the kitchen is falling and the popularity of leafy salads, cocktail and cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, radish, bell peppers and asparagus is increasing. Among the most popular vegetable species grown are onions, cabbage, carrots, wrinkled peas and gherkins/pickling cucumbers.

The structure of market gardening undertakings is subject to ongoing changes. Currently there are approximately 500 vegetable growers in the CR with holdings of 10 100 ha, of which 57 % of the area is managed by 29 growers with an area of vegetables greater than 100 ha. Most are small growers (i.e. with an acreage up to 1 ha), who mostly specialize in selling vegetables directly to consumers or on the markets.

In recent years the number of vegetable growers who grow their production in accordance with the rules of integrated pest management for agriculture (IPA) has risen annually. In 2016, the SAIF recorded 93 vegetable growers in this system with an area of 7 300 ha. The aim of IPA is mainly the protection of the environment and human health, compliance with the methods of good agricultural practice, preventive methods and methods for warnings about harmful agents in the crop and the subsequent targeted protective interventions.

THE FRUIT AND VEGETABLES FOR SCHOOLS PROJECT 

is part of the Fruit, Vegetables and Milk for Schools project and is intended for pupils of primary and secondary schools, including preparatory classes. Fruit and vegetables represent an important source of vitamins, minerals and other nutritionally important substances. We should eat 2 to 3 servings of fruit and 3 to 4 servings of vegetables a day, i.e. at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Students at schools registered in the project receive free fruit and vegetables, that being 2–4 servings per month. A serving is one apple, pear, peach or nectarine, pepper, kohlrabi, orange or banana, for other kinds of fruit or vegetable it is at least 100 g. A part of the project is also accompanying educational measures, which are likewise free for pupils. Small regional fruit and vegetable producers can participate in the project as suppliers.
More information about the project at: www.szif.cz.

Milk for Schools project


HOPS

The Czech Republic is the largest producer of fine aroma hops in the world. The tradition of hop growing is more than a thousand years old. It was also the first country in the EU to register the EU trademark – Protected Designation of Origin – “Žatecký chmel” (Žatec Hops). The Saaz hop is an original variety with unique properties and quality. Hops are grown in the CR on an area of 4 775 ha. From the perspective of surface area and production, it is the second largest producer after Germany, within the EU, and the third in the world. There are 120 hop growers currently registered in the CR.

Hop exports significantly outweigh imports. The foreign trade in hops has shown an active balance for many years. Therefore this commodity is becoming an important part of the CR’s foreign trade and helps strengthen the GDP of the CR. In 2016, up to 60 % of hop production was exported outside the EU, mainly to the Asian market. Within the EU, exports are mainly to Germany.

The current goal is to increase the area of hop fields and stabilise them above 5 000 ha. This can be achieved by comprehensive support, in particular the quality of the plantings, investments into technology, research, etc.

WINE

The production potential of vineyards in the Czech Republic came to 18 486 ha in 2016, whilst the total area planted was 17 737 ha. Other areas were grubbed-up vineyards, grubbed-up areas of vines with a permit or a right to replant and a permit for new planting.

The most commonly grown white varieties are: Veltlínské zelené (Grüner Veltliner) (1 640 ha), Müller-Thurgau (1 547 ha), Ryzlink rýnský (Riesling) (1 242 ha) and Ryzlink vlašský (Welschriesling) (1 188 ha). Svatovavřinecké (Saint-Laurent) (1 139 ha), Frankovka (Lemberger) (1 120 ha), Zweigeltrebe (763 ha) and Rulandské modré (Pinot Noir) (721 ha) are the most commonly grown red varieties.

Wine


Wine consumption per capita has been gradually increasing since 1989 and currently hovers around 20 litres per year. A third of the wine consumed comes from domestic production; two-thirds consists of wines imported from the EU and third countries.

ORNAMENTAL HORTICULTURE AND NURSERY MANAGEMENT

These traditional Czech horticultural fields account for approximately 2.7 % of total domestic production in agriculture and are one of its sectors that is growing slightly. In 2016 the revenue from growing flowers and fruit and ornamental nursery plants in the CR came to CZK 3.5 billion; the area used for floriculture and nurseries came to 2 509 ha. Domestic floriculture enterprises specialise in growing balcony, bedding and potted plants for the domestic market; cut flowers and green foliage are imported. An increasing quantity of horticultural and nursery management products are found in the planting of urban greenery and when reconstructing and maintaining the Czech countryside.

MEDICINAL, AROMATIC AND CULINARY PLANTS (MACP)

MACP are one of the domestic agricultural commodities with a long tradition and their cultivation provides an opportunity for agricultural diversification. In 2016, according to the CZSO, they were cultivated on 5 297 ha, and in 2017, according to preliminary estimates, a relatively significant increase in the area can be expected, by up to 40 %. In the CR the main commodity is caraway, which is cultivated annually on an area exceeding 2 000 hectares. Caraway is also the only crop in the sector showing a positive external trade balance. Other herb plants cultivated include coriander and fennel; among the main medicinal plants cultivated are mainly silybum, chamomile, marigold, peppermint and lemon balm. Chamomile and caraway growers use the Protected Designation of Origin CHAMOMILLA BOHEMICA and ČESKÝ KMÍN for their products. In recent years there has been an increase in MACR grown organically, MACR grown for harvesting the green leaves also known as fresh herbs, and MACR grown in pots or containers.

MACP