Wax apples are popular gifts during the Spring Festival season in Taiwan. The fruit’s major producing area is the coastal townships in Pingtung County such as Donggang, Fangliao and Nanjhou. However, since 2016, wax apple production has been affected by adverse weather, including the strongest cold stream for 10 years and the effect of typhoons in 2016. This year’s anticipated bumper harvest never arrived, hampered by the unexpected low temperatures brought by the cold stream early this month. Prices for the popular Spring Festival gift are expected to have increased by the time of the holiday.
This year’s first cold stream hit Taiwan in early January. It was initially hoped that wax apples would not be overly affected, but temperatures turned out to be as low as 5 degrees Celsius, as measured by a farmer in Pingtung’s Nanjhou Township. The delayed chilling injury is now in play, resulting in a sharp decrease in production. Even the fruit that survived have blackened spots on their skin, due to the effects of frostbite. The estimated output has dropped by at least 50 percent.
The affected batch of wax apples was originally due to be ready to ship in about 1-2 weeks. However, the recent cold stream sent the temperature in southern Taiwan plunging to 9 degrees, and then back up to 27 to 28 degrees when the sun came out. The considerable temperature difference caused serious premature drop in wax apples, by an estimated 30 percent. To prevent further loss, farmers have harvested wax apples and put them on the market, explaining why prices have yet to increase. However, by the time of the Spring Festival, when the supply of wax apples will have fallen dramatically, it is estimated that their price will rise 20-30 percent, making them cost NT$700-800 per kg. This is still less expensive than last year’s price of over NT$1,000 per kg, the result of the strongest cold stream in 10 years.
Photo: Chen Yen-ting, Liberty Times
(Liberty Times, translated by Lin Lee-kai)
Photo: Chen Yen-ting, Liberty Times
DID YOU KNOW?
Taiwan has a subtropical climate, which is warm and humid throughout the year, without very distinct seasons. However, in winter, the weather may be affected by the southward movement of the polar cold air mass, and the temperature can rapidly drop to 10 degrees Celsius or even below 5 degrees Celsius in a short period of time, which may hinder the physiological activities of crops and, in serious cases, destroy tissue in what is called “chilling injury.”
1. wax apple phr.
2. cold stream phr.
3. chilling injury phr.
4. frostbite n.
5. premature [fruit] drop phr.
熟前落果(shou2 qian2 lou4 guo3)
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