Blog Archives

Stonefruit sector on alert in north-eastern Spain due to frosts

Zaragoza suffers mild frosts
Stonefruit sector on alert in north-eastern Spain due to frosts

Stonefruit trees in Lleida, Catalonia, and in the provinces of Zaragoza and Huesca, one of Spain’s earliest production areas, are already in the flowering stage, including all cherry varieties and some early nectarine, peach and apricot varieties. This is the most crucial moment of the season.

“The winter was milder than usual, although the spring weather has made things harder. Delays are likely to take place in all our products’ development and ripening, and difficulties may arise in the pollination and settling of the various varieties currently in bloom,” explains Sergio Alonso, of the cooperative Cosanse; the largest in the region of Aragon.

Blossoming cherry trees in ZaragozaAccording to Alonso, the first frost took place in the early morning of Monday. “We had temperatures of between -3 and -4 degrees Celsius which have affected the fruits now at their most sensitive stage, right before the settling. These frosts could damage a considerable percentage of the fruit, mainly some apricot and nectarine varieties. Although the extent of the damage still needs to be evaluated, for now it does not seem to be too severe,” assures Sergio Alonso.

No frosts have taken place in Fraga, in the province of Huesca, where large production volumes are expected. “Petals have started falling from some cherry trees and the fruit is already developing. The arrival of frosts now would consequently cause very severe damages,” explains Ramón, of the company Summer Fruits, where the stonefruit season will start in late April and finish in October.

In the province of Albacete, central Spain, some apricot plantations were damaged in early March due to frosts, with 80% of the harvest being lost in some areas.

Publication date: 3/27/2014

Argentinian lime production will decrease due to frosts

Argentinian lime production will decrease due to frosts

According to an annual report of Argentina’s citrus by the USDA, the country’s fresh lime production is estimated to decline by more than 40% in the business year 2013/2014. Estimates are that the production will amount to 750,000 tonnes (550,000 tonnes less than in the previous year) due to the frosts during the winter of 2013 and a drought that affected most of the growing areas throughout the year. Exports and domestic consumption are also expected to decline to 250,000 and 50,000 tonnes respectively.

Forecasts for processed lime indicate it will decline by 50% to 450,000 tonnes due to the decrease in production.

Meanwhile, orange production is expected to increase to 550,000 tonnes, 50,000 more than in the previous year. Exports are expected to remain stable at 70,000 tonnes as a result of increased domestic consumption and fruit for processing. Consumption will reach 365,000 tonnes due to increased production.

Tangerine production would increase to 260,000 tonnes and tangerine exports would remain stable at 90,000 tonnes due to increased domestic consumption and fruit for processing. Consumption is expected to increase to 135,000 tonnes as a result of increased production.

Fresh grapefruit production is expected to decrease to 60,000 tonnes because the acreage is decreasing. The consumption of this fruit will fall to 40,000 tonnes due to the lower production.

Exports of grapefruit are estimated to remain unchanged at 2,000 tonnes due to the lower demand for this type of fruit abroad.

One of the main concerns of the citrus industry in Argentina is still the increase of production costs in the past six years, a result of the country’s high inflation rate, which has caused a significant loss of competitiveness for local exporters.

In addition, trade has been disrupted in recent years by the intermittent strikes from SENASA and customs inspectors.

Expectations are that markets for citrus won’t diversify in the business year 2013/2014. The market demand of the European Union and Russia is expected to remain stable. Additionally, citrus supply from producing countries of the northern hemisphere, compared to the current season, is expected to increase.


Publication date: 1/15/2014

Argentina: Melon production affected by the frosts

Argentina: Melon production affected by the frosts

The melon production came in late as some hectares were burned by the cold weather and the rest was planted very late. The sector lost an important market and the season’s best prices.

Almost all of this season’s Sarmiento’s novelty melon, which is harvested and sold in the beginning of December to the most important markets in the country, was lost due to late frosts that affected more than 25,000 acres of fruits and vegetables throughout the province. Sarmiento, a leading producer of melon, produces 70% of the novelty varieties most affected by the frost. The producers who had planted the fruit during the beginning of September lost their plants to the frosts, and those who had decided to wait, because of the weather forecasts, lost a month’s work, which in turn made the fruit lose its novelty factor.

Since the novelty melon fetches top prices due to it being one of the first on the market, the economic impact was also high, however, there are no estimated figures of the sector’s economic losses. “Producers from Sarmiento tend to grow the novelty melon because it leaves the best profit margin. 70% of them are planting the novelty melon here,” said Pedro Mestre, director of Produccion de Sarmiento.

Each season, San Juan produces some 5 million melons of different commercial qualities. Due to the late production this year, their melons will have to compete with other production areas such as Mendoza and La Rioja once they hit the markets this week.

Guillermo Videla, from the Association of Small Melon Producers in Tres Esquinas, said that he hadn’t been affected by the cold because he had decided to plant later, but that the producers who had planted earlier had lost their crops to the frosts had reseeded their plantations after the frost. “I’m about to harvest now which is unusual, I would have harvested novelty melons on the first days of December normally. People who lost their crops had to replant and make further investments.” said the producer.


Publication date: 1/3/2014

Argentina: “80% of cherry plantations affected by frosts”

Alberto Carleti is one of the most important cherry producers and exporters of Valle de Uco, in the province of Mendoza, Argentina, and a member of the board of Mendoza’s Cherry Commission. In his opinion, the acreage for cherry cultivation will continue to drop. He also pointed out that the region’s yield has fallen, which is bad news for the sector. 

- How is the cherry season shaping up after the frosts?

- The worst problem we have to face today is the damage caused by these frosts, which is sadly quite significant. 80% of cherry plantations have been affected.

We can only wait for the next phenological stage of the plant, which is the settling, to have more precise information. Cherries, by nature, have a low settling rate, despite an intense flowering. If we bear in mind that very few flowers are still healthy, prospects are not good.

How many kilos may have been lost?

- It is difficult to make an estimate in kilos, but if we bear in mind that the province usually harvests between 6,500 and 7,000 tonnes per season and we expect 80% of that to be lost, you can easily imagine.

How many people will lose their jobs because of this situation?

- This problem affects the entire stone fruit sector and is already being studied with concern. As a whole, the reduction in the workforce will be noticeable. We are already talking to the authorities about the social impact this will have.

These activities not only require intensive labour, but also raw goods and materials that will no longer be needed. We understand that the social impact is a cause for concern, mainly in the area of Valle de Uco, where trade also depends on fruit production.

Last season, prices were relatively good. Why has the acreage been reduced?

- Last season, cherry prices improved as a result of Argentina and Chile’s lower production volumes; with normal volumes, the expected market prices would return.

This year, the losses for fruit growers in Chile have been huge. There is so little left that it will not cover the production costs.

Mendoza went from being the number one cherry exporter to just the fourth, why is this?

- Firstly, due to the lack of technological innovation, as this requires high levels of investment. Many cherry plantations were also eradicated and replaced by building projects, as in the area of Maipú, or converted for other crops.

Cherries require specialisation and large investments, and because of the lack of experience in the province, many of these investments are based on trial and error. Thus, producers do away with cherries and plant grapes. The production costs for a hectare of cherries reach between 30,000 and 35,000 pesos.

Compared to other areas, has the yield dropped?

- In Mendona, the production per hectare generally reaches 4,000 to 6,000 kilos. In the area of Valle de Uco, the average would be of 8,000 to 12,000 kilos per hectare. Meanwhile, in the High Valley of Rio Negro, which has better technology and a selection of high-yield varieties, we could be talking 12,000 to 18,000 kilos per hectare.

Will the activity recover in the medium term? 

- In my opinion, Mendoza will continue losing acreage for cherry plantations. The region has been hit hard by these frosts and crops will most likely continue being abandoned.

(1 Argentinian Peso = 0,17 US$ )


Chile: Frosts cause estimated US$ 500 million in losses

Chile: Frosts cause estimated US$ 500 million in losses

The Chilean Minister of Agriculture, Luis Mayol, stated that losses for the agricultural sector caused by frosts in September amount to 500 million US dollars.

“We estimate the losses for the fruit sector at 25%, which, using last season’s prices as reference, amounts to approximately 500 million dollars, as a total of 50 million boxes are affected,” said the Secretary of State, who also estimated the supply of vegetables to recover in 30 to 45 days.

Mayol used this opportunity to warn consumers against speculators, given the likely increase in the price of the affected products.

Lastly, the Minister refused declaring the places affected by the weather as disaster areas, as the alert has “different connotations”.

“This is an agricultural emergency, and it requires a special agricultural contingency,” he stated.

It is worth noting that, last week, the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile (Asoex) quantified the damages for the sector at 1,200 million dollars.

“All the resources available, both regular and extraordinary, should be used to resolve this problem as soon as possible,” emphasised the president of Asoex, Ronald Bown.


Publication date: 10/10/2013