Fruit growers in Bajo Aragon Caspe have started the campaign on the wrong foot. One of the early cherry varieties, the first to come into the market, has registered losses ranging between 70 and 80% due to the rains recorded in recent days. The producer Oscar Barceló has described the damage caused by the heavy rainfall as "disastrous." The most affected variety has been the Early Bigi, which is the most difficult to cultivate. In many cases, and because of the size that the fruit had already reached, the vast majority of them have cracked and can no longer be marketed.
Rains continue in Spain and the stonefruit production areas, where the harvest is currently in full swing or are about to start, such as Tarragona, Valencia, Alicante, Murcia, Seville and Extremadura, are reporting damage to the fruit, especially in the case of apricots, cherries and nectarines. The producer explains that rainfall is not abundant, but it has been raining for 4 days in a row, with short intervals of sunshine, just at the time when the fruit is gaining colour, which accelerates the fruit's growth and causes the skin to appear torn.
The grape variety Crimson Seedless can be grown with substantial water savings while improving the fruit's size and colour, as demonstrated by a doctoral thesis presented this month at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT). Research conducted by María del Rosario Conesa has demonstrated the suitability of this variety to be handled with techniques such as a regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) and partial rootzone drying irrigation (PRD), achieving average water saving of around 35% while keeping production volumes and crop quality stable and boosting essential attributes, such as size and colour.
A cold snap in Spain last week caused millions of Euro loss to fruit production, especially in Murcia. Growers had feared that the early blossoming brought on by a mild winter, would leave the trees more vulnerable to the risk of frost, and unfortunately they were proved right. Initial estimates from Murcia’s regional government pegged the losses in the province at €45m, with almonds, peaches, nectarines and citrus the most affected crops. Lettuce and artichokes have also sustained some damage.
During this entire winter, the Spanish Association of Tropical Fruit Producers has found that the leaves of most avocado plants have been losing the green hue that characterises them and have turned brown, which is unusual, given that avocados are evergreen plants. This anomaly has been caused by a massive attack of a mite, the Oligonichus punicae (Hirst). The presence of this mite has been recurrent in recent years, especially in autumn, but the incidence was only testimonial and went unnoticed every year, since it disappeared from the plantations with the arrival of winter.
The frost recorded last week in Murcia spoiled more than 30 million kilos of extra-early stonefruit; a significant volume, considering it is a highly prized fruit in the market, even though it only represents just over 10% of Murcia's total stonefruit volume. Thus, the frosts have robbed Murcian growers of the first 'good' fifteen days that were expected in mid-April, at the start of the campaign. The sector will be able to supply significant volumes from 10 May, instead of from 20 April, as had been predicted before the frost.
The economic losses in agriculture caused by frosts last Wednesday amounted to 45 million Euro, as reported by the Council of Agriculture, Water and Environment of Murcia, with data collected by the District Agricultural Office (OCA). Cieza is the most affected municipality, with a loss totalling 37.7 million Euro, while Jumilla has estimated the losses at 3 million Euro and Caravaca at 1.1 million Euro. The most affected crops are almonds, with 7,225 hectares; peaches, with 1,986 hectares; nectarines, with 1,289 hectares, and citrus fruit, with 823 hectares. Lettuce and artichokes have also been hit.
The frosts recorded on Tuesday night this week in different regions of Murcia have caused severe damage to agriculture, especially to stonefruit crops, whose campaign could be catastrophic, and also to artichokes, citrus fruits and leafy vegetables. The flowering of stonefruit trees was already at an advanced stage due to prolonged spring temperatures during the autumn and winter. The damage to the trees that were already in bloom is very serious, with losses for extra-early varieties ranging between 40 and 80%, depending on the area, and temperatures that have oscillated between -2 and -7 degrees Celsius.
The hailstorm that took place on Friday last week in some parts of the region of Axarquia has caused damage of varying degrees to fifty greenhouses, some early potato crops and fruits, such as loquat and avocado. At least that is what emerges from the preliminary report carried out by the technicians of Oficina Comarca Agraria (OCA) in Vélez-Málaga, an institution under the Provincial Delegation of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development. Fifty greenhouses have suffered some form of damage from the hailstorm registered last Saturday in the region. The most serious damage affects 15 greenhouses, all in the area of El Morche, in the town of Torrox.
The high temperatures registered in the region of Murcia in recent weeks are causing great concern among agricultural producers, who fear that their crops' seasons could be affected. For the past few weeks, maximum temperatures close to 20 degrees have been registered in large areas of Campo de Cartagena and Guadalentín, where the vegetable harvest has already started. But what worries these growers the most is that these very high temperatures are also 'slamming' Central European countries, consumers of our products at this time.
Almeria's vegetable crops are being heavily attacked by whiteflies, thrips and viruses; as a result, COAG Almeria has issued a call for growers "to contact their nearest COAG office or the District Agricultural Office (OCA) to provide them with reports on losses and crop damage," state sources from the agricultural organization.
An HLB (citrus greening) plague has put the Spanish citrus sector on guard due to the serious consequences it could have, considering that the harvest season is only just starting in Andalusia. The alarm was sounded at the horticultural fair Fruit Attraction 2015 by the company Citrosol. HLB is a bacterial disease transmitted by an insect, the Diaphorina citri, which has already been detected in the Canary Islands and Galicia and which has already caused the disappearance of much of the citrus acreage in some Asian countries.
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