Murcia's lemon campaign started more than two weeks late this year, in late September, as the fruit had yet to reach the right commercial caliber. In fact, there is a predominance of smaller calibers this campaign, although they could still improve after the recent rains.
"This year, there is a greater fruit load in the trees, which usually results in overall smaller calibers. It should also be taken into account that August was quite a hot month, as this caused a lot of stress on the trees," says Enrique Fuentes, of the commercial department of Hijos de Alberto del Cerro.
"In the first weeks of the campaign, we have really struggled to be able to supply our customers, since there was hardly any fruit with a good commercial caliber; however, as the weeks passed, many European supermarket chains have had to change their caliber requirements, reducing it by a few millimeters. The most inflexible chains have therefore had a lower supply."
According to the exporter, the situation could still improve in this regard, since "this fall has so far been quite rainy and the sizes could recover earlier than expected." By mid-December, the bulk of the production is expected to reach the European markets with a wide availability of more commercial sizes." Enrique also says that, despite the lack of larger sizes, the fruit's quality is better than last year's," with a thinner skin and more homogeneous shapes."
The competition with Turkey is intense this year at the start of the Spanish campaign, even though the marketing windows don't fully overlap. "Turkish exporters have large volumes of lemons available this year, and that fruit is marketed in many places, from the United Kingdom to Russia." This, together with the problem with sizes in Spain and the fact that Argentina and South Africa are shipping their last batches, has caused prices to drop slightly. This trend has been more noticeable in market sales than in the field," explains Enrique Fuentes.
The Murcian company has associated farmers who are betting on the new late Summer Prim variety, which is organoleptically very similar to the Primofiori, but with a harvest period in the spring months. "Although quite a lot is already being planted, there are still very few trees of this variety in production. We are expecting to see how the product does in the field and in the post-harvest, although for now, things are looking good."