The Spanish kaki harvest will start in September in the Valencian Community, the leading producing area of this fruit in Spain. According to the first estimates of the Spanish Kaki Association, at least 20 to 25% of the harvest will be lost due to pest problems, especially because of the cotonet pest (Pseudococus viburni).
“The incessant advance of the cotonet in the fields of the Valencian Community is the main problem faced by farmers,” stated Pascual Prats, president of the Spanish Kaki Association. “Virtually all kaki producers – from cooperatives to private companies – are affected by this pest to one degree or another. It has even affected more than 70% of some plantations. It is almost utopian to find fields that are completely free of cotonet. Last year a good chunk of the production was lost to this and other pests, but this year losses will be higher,” he stated.
According to the representative of this association, the growing pest problem is significantly increasing production costs, something that jeopardizes the profitability of this product, which is increasingly lower because of the price levels producers have been paid in the last campaigns.
“A few years ago, we would carry out 4 to 5 treatments to control fungal problems in the fields. Now we are forced to carry out 8 to 9 treatments, which undoubtedly increases production costs. In addition, the tools we have to combat the cotonet are proving to be ineffective and public institutions aren’t allowing us to use the pesticides that would help us eradicate this pest.” “
The affectations caused by plagues, branching issues, and sunburns, among other factors, could lead the sector to have losses of around 30% this year. Fortunately, we haven’t had any adverse weather conditions like we did last season when we were affected by frost, torrential rains, and hail,” Pascual Prats stated.
“Large distribution is increasingly more demanding in terms of quality and demands more competitive prices, while kaki production is increasingly more expensive,” stated the president of the Association. “Last year prices were acceptable for business due to the significant drop in production, but they did not offset production costs.”
The tendency to start or abandon kaki fields in the Valencian Community is therefore accelerating. “We have been planting very little for the past 5 or 6 years. Previously there were long lines of producers buying plants from the nurseries. Now that trend is changing and, after losing money during several consecutive seasons, many producers that changed their citrus fruits for kakis are replanting citrus fruits,” Pascual Prats stated.
Source – https://www.freshplaza.com