The citrus harvest begins with a drop in production due to the heat
This October the citrus harvest has started in Terres de l'Ebre, especially in Montsià and Baix Ebre, with the harvest of the earliest varieties of mandarins and clementines.
This year a harvest is expected marked by the drop in production due to the heat and the low rainfall during the summer. It must be said that the previous campaigns were not good either, with low prices on the market due to the entry of African citrus fruits and the strong storms experienced in Terres de l'Ebre.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has reported that this year there is a key novelty for the development of the campaign: the imposition of cold treatment for the importation into the European Union of oranges from countries such as South Africa, where the pest of the orange tree moth, a measure that had been defended by Spain.
However, on October 23, the producers find themselves with a situation of kilos of citrus fruits that they do not like. “In principle, it is a campaign that at the production level will be similar to last year, which was a low campaign. Protagonist of the weather conditions, whose summer is very hot that began in May and is extending until October, with temperatures typical of September, and very little rain during the summer”, summarizes Federico Tarazona, manager of the Agris de Alcanar Cooperative.
This is also the view of the manager of Cítrics Baixmon, located in Bítem, Matilde Cugat. “There will be much less tangerine than other years. She is taking more time to mature. The weather that she is doing now is very bad for citrus fruits, it is too hot », she points out. In the case of Cítricos Baixmon, 94% of the production is exported to Germany. "But the weather is very good there too and orders are not being placed because it is not cold."
High temperatures have also caused the incidence of pests such as spiders, whiteflies and fruit flies.
In the case of BaixMon, the harvest is now starting with the clementines of the Marisol, Orogros, Clemen Rubí and Oronules varieties. They are harvested in the area of Santa Bárbara and Vinaròs, but also in Alcanar and Vinaròs. “A good year we make about 30 million kilos. Last year we made about 25. This year there will also be few, especially clementines," Cugat specifies.
In Terres de l'Ebre, spring was indeed rainy, but the precipitation stopped in May. Since then it has been able on a few occasions, sporadically in the form of a storm. All this has increased spending on irrigation for producers.
“Selling prices will have to be higher in order to survive. If we do not have an increase in income in the price, a large part of the citrus grower will disappear because they will not be able to bear the production costs », values Tarazona. “We have had the perfect storm: we have an increase in electricity, fertilizer and fuel costs. Everything has increased."
Cugat also points out that the price of electricity has damaged them: «the issue of electricity is very meager. We have also had to water more and this has been noticed. And the gasoline. Also the wood and the boxes and the material has risen... Everything is against it». And meanwhile, "prices for years have not been what we want."
On the other hand, most of the agricultural roads in Alcanar have already been recovered after the downpours of September 1, 2021. «90% of the accesses are recovered, by the City Council and at the initiative of the farmers themselves. But there are parts that have not yet returned to normal, "closes the manager.