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For some, the harvest ended in June. Such a difficult year, with many climatic anomalies we haven't had anytime soon. After the rainy spring, mildew ruined the vineyards. This is what farmers say in the Melnik region. In some of the massifs the damage reaches 80% and already in the summer it became clear that there will be no grapes

The winegrowers in the area are worried that I will not be able to cover the costs they have incurred during the year. "It's time to harvest, we put in so much money, hard work and finally we wonder if we should pick at all, because these are expenses and in the end - nothing. Our harvest will be quite weak," added farmers from villages in the wine region.

"The problem came from a wet spring with excessive rainfall. There was an extremely dry summer with very high temperatures.

These were favourable conditions for spreading mildew and there had to be more frequent and preventive spraying.

These complex reasons, mostly related to weather conditions, will lead to a weaker harvest, "said Dimitar Petkov, a technologist at one of the largest wineries in the Melnik region.

Ing. Krasimir Koev revealed whether there is a good harvest of grapes and will there be more for brandy this yearwine, gro

He says that so far the purchase prices of early grape varieties are about 50-60 cents. higher than last year. Picking late varieties will be delayed by about a week to 10 days, writes "24 hours".

There is a demand for grapes, but the supply is small. The wineries in Sandanski-Petrich region have their own vineyards and rely on their production. However, other processors will have to look hard for quantities to load their capacities. "We didn't have a serious problem with vineyard diseases, we sprayed four times, but the high temperatures and drought in the summer had an unfavorable impact.

It is true that the spring was rainy, but we immediately began spraying against ordinary mana. If you don't catch it in time, it strikes almost 100% and it can't be stopped. Somewhere the situation is tragic," explains Atanas Manolev, who has a family winery in Melnik.

It says that their vineyards, which are about 60 acres, are affected by mildew at about 5-10%. And this loss could have been compensated by rainfall in the summer, but this never happened.

"If it had rained twice seriously, in late July and early August, the nipples would have swelled up and compensated for our small mana damage. Even not so much drought caused damage as high temperatures in the absence of humidity in the air.

The preparation of homemade rakia - already twice as expensive

However, the sugar content will be very good," the expert analyzed.

However, some people underestimated the rainfall in the spring, he commented. Since mildew is really a very dangerous disease, you need spraying early and preventively. For those who did not, it caused them total damage and early "finished" with the grape harvest, Manolev adds.

He also advises not to save on detergents and to change them, because diseases are becoming more resistant. Although small, in the Melnik region there are abandoned vineyards, where the surrounding massifs are also infested during the development of mildew. This is a fungal disease and a strong wind spreads to the neighboring vineyards and they flare.

The owner is pleased that he has saved his vineyards from mildew, but from the high temperatures - there is no way.
Now, even if it rains, it won't have any effect. And winegrowers who have drip irrigation in their arrays also suffered from the prolonged summer heat.

At temperatures above 40 degrees, drip irrigation does not humidify enough, unless the system is constantly working, but then there is a problem with water sources.

In recent years, winegrowers in the villages around Melnik have also complained of raids of wild pigs. This year they have damaged the early varieties. There were occasions to eat more green clusters in early August. "Pig raids are becoming more frequent, because apparently there is no food in the forest. They go down individually and in groups and do great havoc. We have talked to hunters to go on an off-season posse, with a permit, of course, to intimidate them and unlearn to come to the vineyards, but there is no result, "says Manolev.

He expects a ton of grapes now to produce about 350-400 liters of wine with the proviso that it adheres to traditional technology. So far, there is no interest in importing grapes from neighboring North Macedonia, because the harvest there is not expected to be very strong again because of the unfavorable weather conditions. The vineyards along the Struma Valley are indeed seriously compromised by spring rainfall and summer heat, but in Central and Eastern Bulgaria the condition of the vineyards is better.

The harvest will be weaker than last year, but farmers there do not complain about such high rates of disease destruction.

And homemade wine and brandy are more expensive

So far, prices are about 30-50 cents. per kilogram higher than last year. "Cabernet Sauvignon" is now sold for about BGN 1.20, the varieties "Aligote" and "Mavrud" are about BGN 1.30, merlot and muscat ottonel - BGN 1.50, Sauvignon Blanc is BGN 1.40, a reporter's check showed.

"Most colleagues complain that the harvest is very poor, in some places almost none. We managed to keep ours, but we cannot raise the prices because it will not be bought by people, "says Milka Velkova, who grows 1600 decares of vineyards in Dolno Linevo.

She commented that around them only one owner had preserved production, everything else, even in people's homes, was ruined.

However, he is reassured that they will be able to realize this year's harvest because they had a lot of customers who came from different parts of the country. "We've done almost everything, both white and red, a few more days and we're done," she said.

He admits, however, that detergents and fertilizers have become very expensive and that a number of owners refused to grow vineyards, and no one wanted to rent. There was no quality hand, and with this minimal support, wages could not be raised and people could be sought. "One has to have another business to support a viticulture hobby," Velkova said. She explained that from 1600 decares they planned to uproot 1200 decares of the old vineyards, because they were not high-yielding, and even if they were, there was no one to sell the grapes to.

"We will leave only the renewed, and on the other earth maybe other cultures will get stuck. In the worst case, it would be alfalfa to restore the soil," she added.

The red varieties this year went on 1.30 leva, with 0.10 cents. more expensive than last one, and the variety "Tamyanka", which was from the family of the Muscatovs, was sold at 1.60 leva. According to her, there is no reason to increase the price of wine and brandy, because the wineries were filled with old vintage.