Soviet Union Table of Contents
Fruit cultivation in the Soviet Union is most successful in the southern, more temperate zones. The tiny Moldavian Republic, with its fertile soil and ample sunshine, produces more fruit and berries than all but the Ukrainian and Russian republics. In 1986 it harvested 1.2 million tons, as compared with 3.3 million tons in the Ukrainian Republic (which has 18 times more land area) and 2.9 million tons in the entire Russian Republic (which is 506 times the size of the Moldavian Republic). Orchards and vineyards occupied their largest area between 1971 and 1975, with a yearly average of 4.9 million hectares. However, the area allotted to noncitrus fruits decreased steadily from 3.8 million hectares in 1970 to 3.0 million hectares in 1986. Significant crops were table and wine grapes, which were widely grown in the warmer southern regions. The Azerbaydzhan and Moldavian republics accounted for over 40 percent of the total grape harvest, but the Ukrainian, Georgian, and Uzbek republics and the southern Russian Republic were also major producers. Citrus fruit growing was limited to the Black Sea coast of the Georgian Republic and a small area of the southeastern Azerbaydzhan Republic. In 1986 the Georgian Republic produced 97 percent of the total national harvest of 322,000 tons of citrus fruit.
Tea, a traditional beverage of Russians and the peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia, is another specialty crop of the Georgian Republic, which accounted for 93.4 percent of national production in 1986. Other important centers of tea growing are the Azerbaydzhan Republic and Krasnodarskiy Krai in the Russian Republic. The area reserved for tea cultivation grew significantly between 1940 and 1986, going from 55,300 to 81,400 hectares. Production rose steadily during the 1950s and thereafter, reaching a peak of 620,800 tons in 1985. Despite increased yields, however, larger tea imports were necessary to meet consumer demand and reached 108,000 tons (equal to 17.4 percent of domestic production) in 1985.
Tobacco, like tea, is a fixture of Soviet life. The crop flourishes in the warmer southern regions, particularly in the Moldavian Republic, which produced about a third of the 1984 harvest. Other centers of tobacco cultivation are Central Asia and the Caucasus, which accounted for roughly 30 percent and 25 percent of the 1984 harvest, respectively. In 1940 only 72,800 tons were grown, but by 1984 tobacco output had more than quadrupled, reaching 375,700 tons. Production, however, did not keep pace with demand, and in 1984 about 103,000 tons (equal to more than 27 percent of domestic output) had to be imported.
Data as of May 1989