Spain: Avocados become most popular alternative to citrus

Avocados are currently the most popular crop in Castellon. Even though the acreage is still not very large, compared with other fruits that were presented as alternatives to citrus fruits, such as kakis, the truth is that trends are already clearly changing in the province, since the acreage devoted to kakis is being reduced, while that of avocados is expanding. The reason is its good adaptation, both in terms of production and sales.

The technician responsible for the Unió de Llauradors, Ferran Gregori, explains that this tree of Central American origin is the crop "giving producers in Castellon the most hope at the moment." In fact, there are professionals in the province who have already decided to uproot their kakis, faced with the evidence that part of the production doesn't reach a good enogh quality.

The president of Fepac Asaja, José Vicente Guinot, says that another inconvenient that kaki growers have had to face has been the lack of specialized stores in Castellon, while some distributors have thrived in Valencian counties, such as La Ribera. "This is a key issue, because even if someone can supply a quality product, if there are no companies to market it, it is very difficult for producers to take the risk," he says.

New plantations
Avocados have adapted optimally to the weather conditions of La Plana, as they already did in the Alicante county of Marina Baixa, where the tree was introduced earlier. In Castellon, the largest plantations are in Oropesa, Almenara and in the capital. The latest data from the Council of Agriculture, corresponding to late 2016, report only 18 hectares, but La Unió says that a very noteworthy growth has been achieved over the past two years.

Numerous informative sessions have been held by the agrarian entity in various municipalities of the province in recent months. These have been very popular, and in several cases, the planting of new farms has followed shortly.

Lamb Hass variety
Gregori says that while the Hass variety has been the one chosen most often in areas of Alicante and Malaga, producers in Castellon have been betting mostly on the Lamb Hass. Some reasons for this are its production levels, its resistance to the wind and the fact that it is harvested later than the Hass. "These characteristics should ensure a better market reception, given that the province is starting two years late with the production of avocados and that there are markets which are already covered," he says.

All in all, Gregori and Guinot explain that, despite the fact that the entry of new crops is interesting, "the situation in Castellon is no longer the same as it was 15 years ago, when possible replacements for oranges were already sought due to the impact of diseases. Now we are looking for complementary crops, with producers seeking a varietal conversion that allows them to reorganize the citrus campaign and gain profitability," they say.



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