The main Sicilian artichoke producers are facing a very unpleasant situation. Enzo Rametta told about the current campaign trend, which is indicative of a bad season for the second year in a row. Rametta explained, “For the second year in a row, the artichoke campaign is just a disaster. Last year, the season was characterised by summer drought, which affected the whole season. In December, the situation got worse as the cold temperatures blocked the plants’ growth”.
Weather is like a jester, in Italy. The North is fighting against drought, while the Centre and the South are experiencing strong and persistent rains and snowfalls. In the coming days, temperatures are expected to rise, with snow present only at high altitudes and strong winds, especially in the islands.
The weather conditions in the formerly "safe" growing areas of Italy and Spain are becoming increasingly extreme. Italy is struggling with considerable snowfall, parts of Spain have to deal with frost. Even if it only turns out to be a short period of frost or snow, the consequences are already noticeable within wholesale. Regarding the current harvest, there are quality and yield losses, especially for the vulnerable leafy lettuces. Growers and retailers are worrying about the remainder of the harvest.
Low pressure coming from Northern Europe did not affect southern Italian produce much. FreshPlaza contacted Gianfranco Romano, regional president of Coldiretti Matera, in order to better understand the current situation. “The lower temperatures were not a big issue. Even though the temperatures reached -1.5°C, citrus fruits did not experience any problems as a temperature change is necessary for the good preservation of the fruits’ organoleptic qualities”.
The 2018 Italian green kiwi production quantification by CSO Italy has now ended.The production did not meet expectations, especially because of exceptionally adverse climate conditions which negatively affected the pre-harvesting fall phase. The total green kiwi marketable production – destined to the fresh produce market – was 333.000 tons, similar to what happened in 2017 and less than 30% of the 2013-16 average.
Milan is one of the biggest cities in Italy. Therefore, its fruit and vegetable wholesale market is a landmark on a national level – regardless of the structural and managerial issues. The wholesaler Salvatore Musso said, “Some produce is going great, others less great but still well: artichokes have high prices, as there is not much production.
In the southern areas of Central Italy, heavy, persistent rain and floods have caused a critical situation to develop in the countryside. According to the producer, entire ready-to-eat salad, carrot and turnip fields have been completely destroyed. Here, we show some photos taken at the beginning of the 48th week that illustrate the conditions in fields and greenhouses.
Production in Italy is estimated at 2,199,526 tons, higher than last year but slightly lower (-6%) than the 2014-2016 average. Trends are different depending on the region: both Trentino and Alto Adige are recovering from last year but remain below their full potential, while the new apple orchards planted in Piedmont mean production has increased considerably. The other regions can be compared to the levels of 2016.
The Italian grape season has started on a more difficult market than that of the last two years. "Back then, the market was virtually open. In recent weeks many overseas products are being offered at ridiculously low prices. Products such as the Chilean Red Globe are selling for nearly a euro per kg", says Bertus Schipper of the Dutch company, Zoutewelle.
There is a lot of produce with a medium-low quality, damaged not only by the spring frost, but also by the rain. Operator Giancarlo Minguzzi adds that "prices for low-quality fruit are rather low. And rightly so. The problem is that retailers keep looking at prices and the risk is that they will drop also for the best apricots."
A violent hailstorm struck several areas of Val Venosta on Monday. Early reports suggested that 200 hectares had been affected. It should be said that the majority of apple orchards, which are the main crop in the area, are protected by anti-hail nets. The problems have therefore mainly hit plants which are still uncovered.
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