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Italy - Slight rise in orange prices in the face of a 40% drop in production

“Our company, which covers 35 hectares, 30 of which are used for the cultivation of citrus fruits, is located between the areas of Lentini and Carlentini in the province of Syracuse, in eastern Sicily. These are two areas suitable respectively for early and medium-late crops, and particularly suitable for citrus production. Over the past five years, we have made investments to modernize both our structures and varieties, in order to reduce production costs and extend the production calendar”. This is how Riccardo Iaca describes the Tenuta Giarraffa farm, which he owns.

The company is a part of the PGI Red Orange protection consortium, and citrus fruits are grown on citrange, carrizo and troyer rootstocks (CTV-Tristeza free) and can be divided into three groups.

The pigmental cultivars, that is those of particular commercial interest that occupy about 24 hectares and are of the following varieties: Moro nucellar, Tarocco Scirè 2071, Tarocco Scirè nucellar D2062, Red Tarot VCR, Nucellar Tarot and Sanguinello 49-5-5. Then we have the tangerines: the late Ciaculli tangerine, in a 2 hectare area. Also, Navel orange is grown in 2 hectares, in the Newhall and Navelina ISA varieties.

But the company also grows lemons of the Verna variety in 1 hectare: here described as “interesting for extra late harvest, therefore more remunerated”. Furthermore, there is 1 hectare for a recent oval-type lemon plant.

In the 2018/19 season, total production was around 450 tons for this company: a performance expected to grow in the final balance of the current campaign.

“The company philosophy – goes the entrepreneur – is to focus on cultivars that adapt well to our microclimate, as verified following a careful pedoclimatic investigation. However, production must be reconciled with the parameters that today’s market requires. This last issue is of absolute importance, because you need a product of the highest quality in order to meet the demands of a global market”.

“To this end – stresses Iaca – it is necessary to proceed with the reconversion of the outdated plants, which must be carried out according to a strict protocol, starting from the analysis of the soil. It is necessary to avoid the wrong cultivars and to favor the characteristics of the area. It is necessary to evaluate the use of rootstocks that are resistant to replanting, since the soil could be”.

The season
“The high temperatures until the end of November – says Iaca – delayed the citrus ripening cycle, but the quality and size of the fruits are excellent. The relative scarcity on the supply front determines a fairly lively market, with producer prices slightly up on last year”.

“For negotiations in the countryside – the expert concludes – the prices are around 0.50 euro/kg for the fine varieties of red Tarot VCR, Scirè 2062 and Scirè 2071. For the common Tarot of a good size the price is 0.30 euro/kg. The excellent quality batches of Moro were sold at 0.35-0.40 euro/kg, while the Ciaculli tangerine was sold at 0.50 euro/kg, given the scarcity of product on the clementine market and similar tangerine. The Navelina Newhall orange is around 0.45 euro/kg”.

“For late varieties such as the Calabrese and Verna lemon, the price is still unknown. However, I believe that the modest increase in prices will not be able to compensate for the decrease in production, which is estimated at around 40%”.

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