Almost 1.3 million hectares (ha) of land in the European Union (EU) were covered with orchard fruit trees in 2017. Two-thirds of this orchard fruit plantation area is concentrated in Spain, Italy, and Poland while Spain alone accounts for one-third of the area. Spain also stands out as the leading producer of oranges, lemons, small citrus and apricots despite a decline in planted acreage according to figures from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union (EU).
According to Eurostat’s latest survey on permanent crops, almost 1.3 million hectares (ha) of land in the European Union (EU) were covered with orchard fruit trees in 2017. Carried out once every five years, the survey only includes Member States that have at least 500 ha of fruit orchard plantations.
Apples occupy the largest area
Apple orchards accounted for the largest share with 37 percent (473 500 ha) of this total, and another 20 percent (255 500 ha)were orange groves. Of the remainder, peach orchards covered 190 500 ha (15 percent), small citrus fruit trees producing satsumas and clementines in particular covered 139 600 ha (11 percent), pear trees covered 100 400 ha (8 percent), apricots covered 75 700 ha (6 percent) and lemon groves a further 60 100 ha (5 percent).
Spain accounts for one-third of the plantation area
The area planted with fruit trees accounted for around 1 percent of utilised agriculture area (173 million ha in 2016). Two-thirds of the EU’s fruit plantation areas were concentrated in Spain, Italy, and Poland.
Spain was the leading EU Member State in terms of the production area of fruit in 2017 (422 800 ha, or 33 percent of the EU total), followed by Italy (279 300 ha, or 22 percent) and Poland (167 300 ha, or 13 percent).
A marginal increase in total area
Compared with 2012, the area under fruit trees in the EU increased slightly (+0.4 percent). Between 2012 and 2017, among the countries with largest areas covered with fruit trees, there were expansions of fruit plantations in Poland (up +16 300 ha, or +11 percent), in Greece (up +5 300 ha, or +6 percent), in Romania (up +3 400 ha, or +6 percent) and in Portugal (up +2 500 ha, or +7 percent).
These offset declines elsewhere, notably in Spain (-9 800 ha less, or -2 percent), Italy (-6 300 ha less, or -2 percent), Czech Republic (-4 100 ha less, or -29 percent) and Croatia (-1 900 ha less, or -24 percent).
Apples expanded, oranges decreased
Poland has the largest area of apple orchards, Italy of pears and Spain of orange groves, small citrus fruits, peaches, apricots and lemon groves About one third of the area devoted to apple orchards in the EU was found in Poland (160 800 ha, 34 percent) in 2017, with a further one quarter split between Italy and Romania (55 800 ha and 55 100 ha respectively, both around 12 percent).
Apple orchards in the EU expanded by 23 900 ha between 2012 and 2017, with most of that expansion concentrated in Poland (+17 700 ha, or +12 percent), Romania (+3 800 ha or +12 percent) and Italy (+3 600 ha, or +7 percent). There were some notable reductions, however, in the Czech Republic (-2 700 ha, or -24 percent) and Slovakia (-1 500 ha, or -39 percent).
A little more than one-half of the EU’s orange groves area was found in Spain (135 100 ha, or 53 percent) in 2017, with a further one-third being located in Italy (78 300 ha, or 31 percent). Most of the EU’s remaining groves were found in Greece (28 800 ha, or 11 percent). Between 2012 and 2017, the area of orange groves in the EU shrank by -11 700 ha, driven by the -10 percent decline (or -14 900 ha fewer) in Spain.
Navel oranges account for over half of the oranges, and clementines dominate the small citrus fruits In the EU, “navel oranges” accounted for almost two-thirds (62 percent) of orange tree varieties in 2017 and clementines accounted for almost two-thirds (68 percent) of small citrus fruit trees.
Among the Member States, Spain also had the most hectares of small citrus fruit (72 percent of the EU total), of lemons (65 percent of the EU total), of peaches (41 percent of EU total) and of apricots (32 percent of the EU total). Italy had the second highest areas planted to all of these fruits but had also the largest area dedicated to pear orchards (29 000 ha, or 29 percent of the EU’s total pear plantation area).