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June 2013: Southern hemisphere sees success, while Northern hemisphere battles floods, cold weather, shortages

June 2013 saw shortages of vegetables in Europe in particular cauliflower and broccoli but also iceberg lettuce due to persistent cold weather. The persistent rainfall in mainly the East and Southeast of Germany has lead to a flood situation in the Danube, the Inn and the Elbe which hasn't been seen since 2002. Also in Canada flooding was causing havoc with farmers who described it as the "worst agricultural event since 1954," adding it was going to cost in the region of $1 million, after two dykes broke.

The 2013 Chinese garlic season got under way and the situation this year was very different to last year. Prices for new season garlic were low, this was due to a large amount of last year's crop still in storage (130,000 tonnes) and yields were also up on last year.

Monsanto stated that it would not apply for the approval of new genetically modified seeds in Europe due to low demand from farmers and stiff opposition from the general public.

There were new strawberry varieties launched in the UK this month, the Capri strawberry from SA Produce and the AVA Rosa from Angus Soft Fruit. There was even the bubble gum flavoured strawberry from VitalBerry.

Also this month Dole Food, one of the world's largest producers and marketers of fruit and fresh vegetables, received an unsolicited buyout offer from 90-year-old Chief Executive David Murdock, valuing the company at just over $1 billion.

China was in the news after it opened its doors to BC cherries and Spain was preparing protocols for exporting stone fruit there. A Chinese company was awarded a 100-year, $40 billion contract to build and operate a canal across Nicaragua, competing with the nearly 100-year-old Panama Canal. According to a bill submitted to congress last year, Nicaragua’s canal will be 22 metres deep, 20 metres wide and 286 km (178 miles) long – bigger than Panama and Suez in all dimensions.

Meanwhile, Pakistan sent the first mangoes to South Korea and after 18 years of negotiations, Russia was finally been accepted into the WTO. This was seen to be of significant benefit to the food and drink sector. Russia was already a large importer of foods and, now it is a WTO member, access to the market would be improved.

Gourmet greenhouse grower Mastronardi Produce once again took top honours at the annual Hottest Tomato Competition; the company’s SUNSET® Mini Kumato™ tomato was chosen as the People’s Choice Award for Tomatoes for 2013. Vilmorin were releasing more resistant and productive tomatoes. The most innovative of which for the current campaign was the V-410 vine tomato, whose main characteristics are the quality of its fruits, good colour, firmness and excellent preservation, production, resistance and uniformity.

Pink Lady was celebrating 21 years in the UK, while the Aussies were releasing a brand new variety - the Kalei, a result of experimentation and intensive cross-pollination, created without using genetic engineering or chemicals.

The South African citrus season was well under way, the estimated volume of lemons, 11.1m cartons, was been reduced by 1m since the first estimates in March due to high flower drop. The export of lemons to the European market remained the same as last year at 12% of total exports, despite fears of CBS. Remarkable was the increase to the Russian market which by June had received 24% in comparison to last year's 16%, this due partly to big demand and no requirement for controls on CBS.

The kiwi variety Zespri Gold was proving very popularas the Zespri Board announced that 1,130 hectares of licences for the more Psa-tolerant gold kiwifruit cultivar Gold3 would be allocated to Zespri growers in 2013, as the next step in the Psa recovery pathway – 288 hectares more than was originally intended for allocation. This includes 688 hectares of new gold licences for Green growers and new developments, as well as 442 hectares of Gold One-for-One licences, where Hort16A growers can transfer to Gold3.

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