Tuesday, 7 November 2023, 09:24
This season's citrus harvest will recover to pre-drought production levels across Malaga province, but the sector is remaining on high alert.
It follows a devastating 2022-23 harvest where 100,796 tonnes were harvested. But latest forecasts suggest thresholds that were achieved before the drought will be reached this season. Figures released by the regional ministry of agriculture show 134,070 tonnes have been harvested in Malaga province, a 33% increase.
The current harvest area is 100,000,000 square metres, with 83,000,000 square metres set aside to oranges and lemons, and the rest for mandarines. "We are expecting an increase, especially in second season oranges, from February onwards," Benjamín Fauli, head of citrus fruit for the provincial young farmers's association Asaja, said. "With mandarins, which are now being harvested, we are expecting significant increases. I am not saying that we are going to have a marvellous crop but we are coming from a season that was disastrous," he added.
The largest production comes from sweet oranges, with 55,370 tonnes forecast to be harvested, 26.2% more than last year's crop. This is followed by lemons with an estimated production of 54,437 tonnes, 34.3% more than 2022. The biggest increase is forecast for mandarins. The 18,234 tonnes forecast is a 40.3% improvement on last year's. About 8% more grapefruit is also expected to be harvested.
The predictions place Malaga as the leader in the region for lemon production. The amount harvested in the province represents 49.1% of the total for Andalucía. However, Fauli said there could be changes for better or worse, depending on the rainfall in the coming months.
Map of Andalucía
The figures, released by the Junta, predict more than 216,330 tonnes of citrus fruit will be harvested in Almeria in the 2023-24 season. In Cadiz, around 64,550 tonnes; in Cordoba, 187,700 tonnes; in Granada, 5,620 tonnes; in Huelva, 613,520 tonnes; in Malaga, 134,070 tonnes, and in Seville, 637,770 tonnes. Sweet oranges account for 63% of production, followed by mandarines (29%) and then lemon and grapefruit.
Competition is also growing due to the lowering of tariffs for third countries agreed by the European Union. This especially favours oranges from southern Africa. Regional minister for agriculture Carmen Crespo said the measure would affect "a territory that competes in a special way with Spain".
The Junta has already asked the Spanish government to "request data from the European Union to be able to know the quantity of South African oranges that the European Union imports" to determine if "it is really complying" with the quotas and tariffs, she added.
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