Technicians of the Phytosanitary Alert and Information Network of Andalusia (RAIF) have confirmed that the sharp temperature swings recorded in recent weeks in Huelva's strawberry plantations have been causing damages to the fruit. To be precise, the main issues that are being detected are soft tips and cracking.
This phytosanitary information service, which is run by the Council of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development of Andalusia, confirmed that the soft tips issue has been very significant during the past month of January and so far in February, causing a lot of fruit in some plots to be discarded.
The RAIF explains that the problem "is caused by the alternation of cold temperatures early in the morning and warm ones in the central part of the day inside the tunnels." This strong contrast causes "a decompensation of the fruit's ripening, as while the tips mature, the rest of the fruit remains green for longer, delaying the harvest. This soft and ripe tip is also more prone to botrytis attacks."
Another problem that has also been detected in the strawberry plantations of Huelva is the fruit's cracking, which according to the RAIF specialist "is nothing but the breakage of the fruit's epidermis."
This issue, which only affects 5% of the strawberry plots, causes the fruits of harder consistency to split longitudinally or transversely, with the consequent loss of firmness and size, and creating a way in for the entry of pests and diseases.
Cracking usually occurs at this time, in February, coinciding with sharp temperature swings between day and night and a lack of hours of sunshine. Another significant fact is that "the risk of suffering this issue seems to increase as the fruit ripens, the higher the content of soluble solids".
According to sources within the sector, these defects are currently being detected mostly in the Rociera variety.
The RAIF recalled in its Phytosanitary Bulletin that "in order to protect the crop's health in general, it is very important to carry out a good handling of plastics at all times, lifting them in the central hours of the day to bring temperatures down, reduce the relative humidity and renew the air inside the tunnels."