Prognosfruit forecasts offer mixed bag of opportunities for coming season As generally anticipated by EU apple growers, this year's crop shows only a marginal fluctuation from last season, although the commercial effects will be far more difficult to judge. Prognosfruit forecasts point to an overall 5% drop in comparison with 1999 to 7.98 million tonnes. This still points to the hard fact that trade sources, including many growers, believe that this season Europe will still be overproducing by some million tonnes. So again the key aspect will be the effect of an increasing acreage of bicoloured apples led by Gala, up 13%, Braeburn, up 18%, and the continuing build up of Pink Lady. France, which will remain the largest total apple supplier with a total 2.2 million tonne crop ­ 3% larger ­ has recorded an 80% increase in this variety. All are seen as premium priced apples throughout Europe and continue to make headway at the expense of traditional Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and a selection of red varieties. European Golden are some 4% down and Red Delicious unchanged, but Grannys seem set for a bumper year with a 10% rise. While the Uk has now recorded an official 28% drop in all its varieties to 183,000 tonnes, Worcester has fallen 11% but Gala is up 18%, while the mainstay, Cox, is down by a massive 41%. This will inevitably offer opportunities for other suppliers although the main contenders are also facing lighter harvests. Holland, which grows a substantial export Cox crop, is down by a total of 11% to 510,000 tonnes, although its own production has been falling and this year is only expected to reach 30,000 tonnes. Belgium, which is concentrating more on Jonagold, is broadly similar with a total 9% fall to 485,000 tonnes. Germany, which has also found a market in the UK for its Cox, is officially down 10% although forecasts are still coming through that as much as half its fruit has suffered from hail damage. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}