The first frosts of winter affected a total of 6,548 hectares and caused damage worth more than 3.7 million euros, stated the Minister of Agriculture, Miguel Angel del Amor. The economic damage amounted to more than 3,760,000 euros, which is a very high figure for the first wave of cold, according to the minister.
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.
The frost alert raised in much of the region, with damages already caused to several crops, is keeping producers on their toes. Some of them have already decided to use thermal blankets on their plantations, especially in those with newly planted lettuce. The entry of a cold and dry mass of polar air will cause a sharp and widespread drop in temperatures, so frosts will be noticeable.
According to the reports made so far, the winds caused losses in 1,752 hectares of banana plantations in the Canary Islands, with most of the municipalities where the fruit is grown being affected; however, everything points to these losses not being severe, except in the areas that were more exposed to the winds.
The weather has caused considerable losses in the Spanish broccoli sector. There has been abundant rainfall in combination with higher temperatures than usual for autumn. The harvest started almost two weeks late this season. Despite the losses and the high demand, the prices have still hit rock bottom due to oversupply. So far, the season has been disastrous.
Francisco Climent owns plantations in Nules that yield 24,000 kilos of Clemenules, the flagship citrus variety in Castellon. He retired a month ago and is now distressed about the sector's situation. "The campaign is disastrous," he says. Pascual Pla, president of the Nulexport cooperative, claims that it is the "worst season in 25 years." Producers and cooperatives agree and explain that there has been a "perfect storm", with pressure from South African imports, rain and falling consumption in Europe.
Due to the persistent rainfall during the current season, kaki producers have been forced to start the harvest at least a week earlier. The harvest of Rojo Brillante kakis in Spain's main producing areas will consequently be finished in ten or twelve days. According to Pascual Prats, president of the Spanish Kaki Association, this has generally not taken a toll on the quality of the fruit.
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