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Spanish citrus crop approx 6.5 million tonnes

Unlike the previous citrus season, expectations are that the 2013/2014 season's citrus harvest will increase. According to data published on October 14 by the European Association of Producers, FRESHFEL, the harvest will amount to nearly 6.5 million tonnes, about 3% more than in the last season. A forecast that is very similar to the appraisals for the Spanish main producing areas that they published between September and October.

Despite this, the citrus sector is being cautious as the season progresses, especially in the commercial aspect, as the high temperatures and lack of rain are having several consequences for the fruit that basically affect two of the most demanded qualities by the consumers: the fruit's size and the colour. The lack of cold and the scarcity of water has led to smaller sizes, especially in the early tangerines and clementines. However the industry has stated that the fruits' intrinsic quality is very good.

According to preliminary estimates by FRESHFEL, production volumes, which vary as the campaign progresses, have increased in general terms in products such as oranges, tangerines and limes, whereas the grapefruit crops will go down over the previous season. The orange production is expected to amount to 3.397 million tonnes, tangerines, 2,144,000 tonnes, and limes, 910,000 tonnes, while the grapefruit, which amounted to 53,000 tonnes in the 2012/2013 season, will only amount to 45,000 tonnes this season.

By communities
The Valencia region is expected to have an overall production increase of 8%, however, this increase is mainly due to the orange's increase of almost 20%. Meanwhile the mandarin will decrease by 2.5%, with significant decreases in the subgroup of early clementines.

The Satsumas subgroup will increase considerably due to the growth of the Clausellina/Okitsu/Iwasaki/Hashimoto group, meanwhile the Owari Satsuma's numbers will be similar to last year but with a slight decrease. Clementines, as a whole, have had a decline attributable to the early clementines and specifically to an important decrease of the Marisol variety. The hybrids are experiencing a slight increase due to the combined effect of the growth of the Afourer/Nadorcott and the decrease of the Fortune and Clemenvilla varieties.

The orange crop is expected to amount to 1,694,036 tonnes, 19.1% more than in the 2013/2013 campaign. It's worth noting that the citrus areas of the Valencian Community were affected by frosts in 2011 and 2012 that reduced production in both campaigns.

Within this group, the Navel subgroup has had an important growth, the Sanguina/Sanguinelli has had a strong increase in relative terms (although in absolute terms its production is still very short), and the white subgroup has had a small drop, mainly motivated by the fall of the Valencia Late.

As for the production of lime in Valencia, it shows an increase of 3.3% and the harvest will be around 207,564 tonnes. Meanwhile, grapefruit, which had a small absolute production, declines to 5,843 tonnes.

Andalusia's Regional Government, expects their territory's harvest to amount to 1,972,078 tonnes during the 2013/2014 campaign, 10.4% more than in the previous season. Huelva, Andalusia's main producer of mandarins, shines again this campaign; with 166,675 tonnes the province produces 51% of the community's total volume.

The Regional Government's forecasts also located Huelva as the second producer of sweet oranges, with 20% of the volume and 295,547 tonnes while their volumes of limes and grapefruits are 577 and 6,418 tonnes, respectively. 8,649 hectares of citrus will be cultivated in Almeria this year, which will produce a total of 239,883 tonnes, 15.8% more than in the previous season.

The Region of Murcia is expected to produce 680,100 tonnes, 12.1% more than in the previous year, in which, according to estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture and Murcia's Water, 606,484 tonnes were obtained. There will be an increase in limes (9.5%), in oranges (16.9%) and tangerines (24.3 %), while the grapefruit's harvest will decrease by 6.2%.

According to data from the Citrus Management Committee, Spanish citrus exports have recorded three consecutive records in the last three years, largely surpassing the 3.5 million tonnes each year and almost reaching 4 million tonnes last season. In addition, in 2012/2013, the total exports of the orange surpassed that of the tangerine group, after eight seasons in which the total export of small citrus surpassed the total export of oranges. This was due to the growth in production and export of table oranges - Navel variety - and the late recovery in production and export of Navelinas after the frosts experienced two seasons ago.

Europe remains the largest market for Spanish exports. According to data from Fepex, up to August 2013, Spain had exported 1,366,723 tonnes of oranges, 650,160,000 tonnes of tangerines, 362,562 tonnes of limes and 39,350 tonnes of grapefruits. The Valencia region remains the first Spanish citrus exporter with 75% of all Spanish citrus exports.

Germany, France and Poland are the main destinations for Spanish citrus, followed by Italy, which, even though it is also a producing country, imports three times the amount of citrus that Spain exports to Russia and the United States, according to information from Citrus Management Committee.


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