Most citrus fruits in Malaga are grown in the Guadalhorce Valley / sur

Malaga province's citrus fruit harvest badly affected by the drought

Farmers believe production will be down by 40% this year, and prices are likely to go up

MATÍAS STUBER MALAGA.

The drought is having a devastating effect on citrus fruit crops this autumn, and the harvest in Malaga province is expected to be 40% lower than usual.

Figures from the Junta de Andalucía show that last year 167,077 tonnes of oranges and lemons were picked in the province, but growers say this year they don’t think there will be more than 120,855 tonnes. And that is an optimistic estimate.

The drought is highlighting the fact that artificial irrigation is not enough to maintain production. The quality of the fruit is not affected, but there will not be as much of it.

Last season, Malaga was once again the province which produced the most lemons in Andalucía. About 68% are grown in the province. Globally, Spain is in sixth place in terms of orange production, with Brazil topping the list, and second to only China in the amount of mandarins grown. For lemons, Spain is in seventh place on a list headed by India.

Oranges will be cheapest

With doubts about the quantity of citrus fruits available in Andalucía, it is possible that prices will rise although experts believe oranges will still be the most affordable.

Nor is Malaga the only province of Spain affected. Benjamín Fauli, head of the citrus department at the Asaja young farmers association, has said production has dropped all over the country and this is not all to do with the drought.

“Last year the harvest was quite good but this year it is much lower. In Valencia, for example, it has rained more than ever but production is considerably down,” he said.