Francesco Perri's opinions

The clementine situation

In the last few hours, sources from Coldiretti Calabria have been pointing out a difficult situation for the citrus fruit farming sector, especially regarding the clementine. The weather has been very unusual with widespread warmth and humidity. Among the damages, there is an increasing number of spoiled fruits which will inevitably be rejected by customers.

In order to understand the situation, we contacted the citrus specialist Francesco Perri. He is an agronomist and he has been supporting several companies for decades.

Perri claims that clementine has become a fruit with a very limited preservability because of the current climatic conditions, “During the harvesting, fruits can be damaged and those little 'wounds' facilitate the spoiling. The relationship between temperature and humidity has been quite constant thus far. These warm-humid conditions are similar to the ones used for the experiments the University did on fungi!”.
Therefore, it is necessary to act accordingly to the situation.

Francesco Perri gives very clear examples, “We do not know how the climate will develop. Therefore, it is crucial that we are equipped with adequate post-harvest technology. For instance, it is necessary to implement a professional cold chain. As soon as the citrus fruits arrive in the plant, they must be immediately stored in refrigerated cells in order to stabilise their internal temperature. In other words, we should start treating clementines as if they were strawberries! The people who were organised in such a manner did not receive many complaints on their produce”.

Furthermore, sanitising the cell through ozone is extremely helpful, because this substance does not leave any residuals. The expert makes the example of Spain, where these problems have been solved for years through the use of currently available technologies. These technologies not only reduced the complaints on the produce but they also created new product categories, “This is what happens in some Spanish companies. They can obtain seven different product categories from a single variety. This is a demonstration of what you can achieve through optical selection techniques”.

Some Californian businesses started the harvesting in the best ripening moment. Then, they stored the produce in large cells in order to keep it from the bad weather. In this way, they can sell it at the most appropriate time.

In Calabria, the clementine production is good. There are large volumes available, especially in the Sibari plain.

One of the problems is the fruit colouring. The climate did not allow clementines to reach the necessary orange colour. “The greater the thermic excursion, the brighter the skin and the pulp will be. Clementines do not have pulp-pigmentation related problems. Therefore, bad weather affects only the aesthetics of the fruit. To be fair, the fruit is already ripe in October. Clearly enough, the appearance is important and it has to meet the market prerequisites.

Another problem related to the bad weather is the overlapping of the early clementines and the less early clementines, “This overlapping makes the situation even more complicated”

In any case, the expert says that it is useless 'to try to stop the rain by complaining', “Companies should try to get funding to invest in technologies. In this way, they can easily manage future campaigns”.

Dr agronomist Francesco Perri
Cell.: (+39) 338 4164800

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