The impact of the frosts early in the year, as well as of the hail in spring and summer in Valencia's kaki producing areas, will translate into about 35-40% less production in the next campaign, which will start in autumn. "At the moment, it seems that we will harvest between 35 and 40% less than we expected before the frost and hail storms took place; that is, about 360 million kilos," says Pascual Prats, new president of the Spanish Kaki Association. "There will be no shortage of kakis, but there won't be any leftover either."
The dry weather and high temperatures that are being recorded in central and northern Europe since the month of May are causing major issues in the production of crops like lettuce and other leafy vegetables. Large distribution chains in these countries are trying to get their supply wherever they can and have also been calling at the doors of Spanish growers, who don't usually schedule the production of their crops for these dates.
Last Thursday, the Ministry of Agriculture convened for a new follow-up meeting to look at the situation for the stone fruit campaign. It was chaired by the General Director of Agricultural Production and Markets, Esperanza Orellana, and confirmed that production is still about 10-15% smaller than in the previous campaign.
Valencian producers were surprised on Sunday afternoon by a heavy hailstorm and strong winds, which have caused severe damage to 11,000 hectares of citrus and kaki plantations in the region of La Ribera del Xúquer, with losses estimated at 47 million Euro. Hail has fallen in the main production area of Rojo Brillante in Spain, significantly affecting L'Alcúdia, Alzira, Algemesí, Tous, and Alberic, among other municipalities.
With some 3,000 hectares planted, Huelva is currently the province with the largest blueberry production in Spain, as well as the largest producing area in Europe for the early spring harvest. 96% of this fruit's exports are intended for the European Union (EU), mostly due to the growing demand in the countries of northern Europe.
The frequent weather adversities, as well as the proliferation of pests and viruses, make it indispensable for producers to sign an insurance contract for horticultural crops under cover," warned representatives of Coag Almeria. The organization argues for the need of producers to protect their farms with agricultural insurance. Coag assures that without an insurance policy, "greenhouses are vulnerable.
The heavy rains recorded last Friday in several areas of the Region of Murcia have caused considerable damage in some places, such as the Vega Media and the Ricote Valley. The storms, which came accompanied by hail, lasted for the entire afternoon, causing apricot, nectarine, peach and paraguayo peach plantations to be affected.
After a prolonged period of drought, the abundant rainfall recorded in southern Spain over the past few months is causing another problem to agricultural producers. Many plantations have become so muddy and waterlogged that it is almost impossible to work in them. The problem, which has already affected crops like carrots, could also take a toll on red beet, as it is impossible to step on the fields where it is grown, despite the fact that the product is ready to be harvested.
The recent cold weather and strong winds that swept through the Community of Valencia damaged around 7,500ha of production and caused losses of around €35m according to initial estimates released by growers’ union Ava-Asaja. The Vall d’Albaida, Costera and Ribera Alta regions were the worst affected regions, with stonefruit, kaki and earlier varieties of citrus and almond trees bearing the brunt of the damage, the union said.
An alteration in climatic conditions, especially water deficits followed by wet periods, has been causing cracking problems in some citrus varieties since mid-January. Initially, the cracking problems appeared in specific plots, after the high temperatures in January and the rains of the last weeks. Now the issue has become widespread and more and more fruits are being affected by it in the producing areas of the Valencian Community.
The latest rains and snowfalls have been beneficial, and the thawing process will continue to supply water to the reservoirs, so 2018 has started with better prospects for irrigators; however, restrictions will still be in place in what will be the third year of drought. The president of the National Federation of Irrigator Communities of Spain (Fenacore), Andrés del Campo, has acknowledged that prospects have improved compared to those of just a month ago, even though some specific areas will still have empty, uncultivated lands due to the lack of water.
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