Lübben-Readers rejoice! The Spreewald cucumber harvest begins next week!
"The plants are fit," said Heinz-Peter Frehn, managing director of Gurkenhof Frehn, a farm in Steinreich, Brandenburg. April and May were colder than normal, slowing growth of the cucumber plants. As a result, they needed about two and a half weeks longer to grow to maturation, said Frehn.
Officially, the annual cucumber harvest in the Spreewald, a region known for its forests, waterways and pickles about 80 kilometres south of Berlin, begins 24 June. Machines known as "cucumber planes" will once again be crisscrossing the fields. The roughly 15m-long trailers can carry around 38 pickers who grab the cucumbers from a lying position.
About 600 hectares of Brandenburg cucumber fields are expected be harvested through the end of the summer. Colder nights in September can put an abrupt end to cucumber picking, says Silvia Jonas, spokesperson for the Spreewald Association.
Corona rules complicate harvest
The pandemic is making the harvest more difficult for farmers. To be able to comply with hygiene regulations, some farms have to set up more living containers than normal for seasonal workers, who mostly originate from Poland and Romania.
In the past 10 years, between 24,000 and 35,000 tonnes of Spreewald gherkins were harvested annually in Brandenburg. In the pickling process, the vegetables are cooked. Sodium hydroxide, fresh onions, dill, herbs or horseradish are added.
Protected regional brand since 1999
Spreewald gherkins have been protected as a regional brand within the European Union since 1999. Only the gherkins grown in the Spreewald region may be sold under the denomination.