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"Francisco Vargas: "The campaign is starting with uncertainty"

Almeria's melons and watermelons aim to gain ground on Morocco and Senegal

The melon and watermelon campaign is already underway in Almeria, with an earlier start as a result of the higher temperatures this winter and the plans of growers to gain ground on Brazil and leave a smaller gap for other countries, such as Morocco and Senegal.

"The goal is to advance the production period to hit the market as shortly as possible after Brazil, so that Morocco and Senegal are not able to fill this market gap," says the president of Asaja Almería, Francisco Vargas. "It seems that there are European companies moving away from these sources. Spain is closer, has the ability to react quicker and can provide a better quality. We are perfectly able to supply the European market," he adds. "On the other hand, we also want to finish before the start of the campaign in Valencia, Cordoba, Seville and Ciudad Real to prevent the productions from overlapping."

Overall, Almeria's growers have expanded their watermelon acreage by about 20%, while the acreage devoted to melons has fallen by between 10 and 20 percent. The greatest growth has been recorded by the extra-early varieties, mainly by seedless black watermelons of the Fashion variety.

"In the previous season, melons only reached acceptable prices for a week; for the rest, only losses were recorded; this is the main reason why growers have decided to devote more efforts to the production of watermelons, which enjoyed reasonable prices during at least 6 weeks," said the representative.

According to Francisco Vargas, there is plenty of uncertainty this campaign when it comes to prices. "Last season's overseas imports were not very strong compared to previous years; however, growers in Almeria are willing to plant fewer kilos per hectare, with more emphasis on quality, to keep prices at the levels they believe to be appropriate."

Vargas also assures that there have been more awareness campaigns about the need to harvest melons and watermelons at their optimum ripeness level.

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