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Spain: Good prospects for Huelva's avocado campaign

Avocado cultivation is rapidly expanding in the province of Huelva. In 2017, there were only 25 hectares devoted to this fruit, and this year, Onubafruit Group's cooperative Costa de Huelva alone has planted 40 hectares in the municipal districts of Gibraleón and San Bartolomé de la Torre. Avocados are mainly being used by Huelva-based companies and cooperatives to diversify their productions, after being traditionally devoted to the cultivation of berries.

Although some in the province of Huelva are now planting avocados for the first time, there are also farms with plenty of experience in both the County of Huelva and the Coast, as is the case of producer José Francisco Ortiz. He has been growing avocados for almost 20 years in the municipality of La Redondela, on the West Coast of the province of Huelva.

The prospects for the upcoming campaign, whose harvest will start at the end of November, are optimistic. Ortiz expects a good production volume and believes that the high demand that there is for this product will lead to good prices. "Last year, about 3 Euro per kilo was paid for first class fruit; this year, the price should at least exceed 2.5 Euro, as long as the fruit reaches at least 125 grams. The market usually demands large pieces weighing over 150 grams," he says.

One of the crop's enemies in the province of Huelva is the heat. Since it is a tropical crop, it can't easily handle temperatures above 25 °C, and "irrigation doesn't help much. Also, the larger the tree, the more difficult it is for it to withstand the heat," says the producer. Thus, in recent months, especially between August and October, he has fought a tough battle against the weather.

The cold is another enemy of this tropical plant, which does not tolerate temperatures below 1 ºC; something that can definitely happen in the West Coast of the province of Huelva. This year, however, José Francisco Ortiz doesn't expect any problems, because "the rainy autumn is not being accompanied by frosts. Ideally, you want to finish harvesting before the winter arrives, before the end of December."

Ortiz points out that avocado sales are currently very good, which has led to price increases over the last four years. It remains to be seen how things will go from now on, given the expansion of the acreage.



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