Finally we opened the Sultaniye factory yesterday and expect to open Tepecik on Monday - the latest start that we can remember. The quality of the first fruit is encouraging and barring any problems we should have a good quality (ie normal !) crop this season.
Having said that, Western Turkey is being hit by a strange cold and wet front right now; heavy rain is forecast for Istanbul and the Marmara region but so far there have only been showers. We keep our fingers crossed that this front passes without too much rain which would obviously increase the risk of disease, but could of course speed up ripening.
As you know the planting this year was very late, and the last tomatoes to be planted, on the 18th June are in our factory garden at Tepecik and can be seen on the webcam link on our website (http://www.merko.com.tr/). The variety here is NDM 1224 and by following this throughout the season you will get an idea of what the end of the season fruit will be like.
While the risk of a curtailment to the crop due to normal autumn weather patterns is there, and would bring the industry total down to below the forecast of 1.8 m mt, a clear run to the end of the season in mid-October should give a good crop, but again one of average size, below those of 2008 and 2009, but sufficient for all needs given the new capacity created in the Free Zones for re-packing for the canned export market. So, the same story; while the late crop makes it more vulnerable to weather created problems as of today there is nothing to report, apart from what good looking early fruit and good plants in the fields.
Regards - Duncan Blake