The citrus season has just begun in Spain with a production forecast of about seven million tonnes, a figure that is closer to a normal season and away from the scarce 5.52 million tonnes harvested in 2015/16.
The Departments for Agriculture of the three main producing areas —Comunitat Valenciana, Andalucía and Murcia—, have already provided in recent days their official harvest estimates for this season: 3,953,226 tonnes (+23.6%), 2,059, 883 tonnes (+10.5%) and 871,000 tonnes (+25%), respectively.
The Regional Councillor for Agriculture in Andalucía, Carmen Ortiz, has advanced along with the first citrus estimate in Andalucía a forecast for the whole sector in Spain, which stands at a volume of 7,106,706 tonnes (+19.2%).
Of that amount, Ailimpo has estimated that 980,000 tonnes correspond to lemon (+22% with regards to 2015/16) and 67,000 tonnes to grapefruit (–6%).
Ortiz emphasised that the citrus sector is the third in importance within Andalucía’s farming industry, with 12,000 farms, 85,000 hectares and a production in 2016/17 that is 8.2% higher than the average of the last four seasons.
The Valencian government speaks in its report of the “recovery of the production,” —with 1.85 million tonnes (+19%) of oranges, 1.79 million (+29.4%) of mandarins and 288,080 tonnes of lemons—, despite the “slight decrease of 1% of the citrus cultivated area” (1,560 hectares less).
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The citrus harvest forecast for Valencia is expected to reach 3,953,226 tonnes
In statements to the agency Efeagro, the president of Agricultural Cooperatives of the fruit and vegetables sector, Cirilo Arnandis, has indicated that the estimated production is similar to a reference year like 2014/15, as last season the output was poor due to high temperatures during the fruit setting stage.
“Production should be sufficient to adequately supply national and international customers, and it also has a top quality,” he assured, although the season “has not reached cruising speed yet.” “If rains arrive when they are meant to arrive, these estimates may increase,” he added.
For its part, the Citrus Management Committee (CGC) warns that this season is marked by the effects of drought, by an exceptionally hot spring and summer, with a historical rainfall deficit and a situation that has led a major percentage of oranges and mandarins to suffer or probably will suffer serious problems of size, a lack of size that arouses the rejection of the product in the retail industry and could trigger more production losses. Despite still questioning the official data, the national association clarifies that the overall result of these estimates is nothing more than a return to a “normal” harvest, which will ensure a balanced supply to markets with almost identical figures to those recorded in the final annual balance two years ago (2014/15), when problems arising from the lack of rainfall did not appear during that season as they have now.
Origin information: ValenciaFruits