Tropical fruit producers in the Alanya district of Antalya are facing an uphill battle as sweltering temperatures threaten their harvest. The region, known for its abundant production of tropical fruits such as bananas, avocados, loquats, mangoes, papayas and dragon fruit, has been grappling with air temperatures soaring above seasonal norms, posing a serious risk to the crops.
Farmers in the district are employing innovative methods to shield their greenhouses and gardens from the scorching heat. One such method involves increasing the irrigation frequency to hydrate the plants adequately. Additionally, they are employing "shade dust" and "top cover" on greenhouses to mitigate the impact of extreme weather conditions. Furthermore, supplements like clay and calcium are being used to bolster the resilience of the plants.
Tahir Göktepe, the president of the Alanya Chamber of Agriculture, highlighted that the region is experiencing what has been termed the "heat of the century," leading to a drastic drop in humidity levels to 10%-15%. This unfavorable condition takes a toll on tropical fruit greenhouses and gardens, jeopardizing the fruit production process.
The adverse effects of the heat are particularly noticeable in open areas where tropical fruits are grown. Göktepe emphasized that the hot weather significantly impairs production, especially during the avocado fruiting season. He expressed concern over the extent of the damage, with some avocado orchards experiencing a loss of up to 50% of their crops as fruits prematurely fall from the trees.
In response to the crisis, the Alanya Chamber of Agriculture has issued warnings to producers, encouraging the implementation of preventive measures. Göktepe emphasized the importance of frequent watering: "Watering the crops every two days, for avocados grown in open areas is essential. In addition, applying clay can help reduce leaf and fruit burning while preventing fruit drop. Moreover, the regular application of calcium can enhance the quality of the produce."
Göktepe said: "If we adopt these measures, we can help salvage up to 30% of the harvest. We also should maintain high humidity levels in greenhouses by adopting a combination of drip and sprinkler irrigation methods to counter the impact of heat." The application of "shadow dust," a process involving the spraying of liquid lime on the exterior nylon of greenhouses, is also instrumental in reducing the penetration of sunlight into the greenhouses' interior.
Bilal Öztürk, a tropical fruit producer, shared his struggles with the extreme weather, saying: "The hottest summer in recent years had negatively affected my avocado orchard. It's painful to witness my fruits turn black and fall off prematurely, disrupting the ripening process. To combat this, I resorted to leaf protection drugs and increased watering to mitigate the effects."
Another producer, Arif Akay, revealed that measures like setting up cooling fountains for dry weather and using "shade dust" on greenhouse nylon had become essential to safeguard their crops. He emphasized the importance of shading nets and employing cooling systems like sprinklers and drip irrigation to maintain a lower temperature inside the greenhouse.
The region's tropical fruit production is substantial, with 12,000 decares of bananas, 2,000 decares of mangos, 3,000 decares of dragon fruit and 1,500 decares of papayas produced under cover in the Alanya district.
Despite the challenges posed by the extreme heat, producers remain determined to protect their livelihoods and contribute to the country's economy. They are working tirelessly to employ innovative techniques and are receiving support from the Alanya Chamber of Agriculture to overcome the impact of the scorching temperatures.