The cherry harvest is starting in the mountains of Alicante, Spain, where, for the time being, the weather is allowing for the fruit to be harvested without major setbacks. This is good news, given that in many producing areas of the Mediterranean arc, the production is being limited by the impact of rainfall, hail, frost or the lack of pickers due to the coronavirus crisis.
“Fortunately, the production of the PGI Montañas de Alicante is highly concentrated and no supply problems are expected, neither due to issues with the production nor due to lack of laborers, since the workers live in the area. However, the production costs will increase due to the restrictions on the mobility of workers,” says Silvia Madrueño, Business Development and Marketing Director for Sunrise Fruits Company, a specialist in Spanish organic products since 2002. This company is devoted to finding export solutions for family farms focused on the organic production of fruits and vegetables, including kale, melons, figs or cherries, among others.
“We work with a family of organic cherry growers. It is a farm with a very good production that we already export to European supermarkets and distributors. It is currently managed by a second generation,” says Silvia Madrueño. "This family of agricultural producers implemented organic methods out of conviction, although it still has crops in the conversion process to organic that are marketed as conventional."
The harvest of these exclusive cherries is usually carried out between week 20 and week 28. “We start with the Burlat and Red Pacific varieties, which are followed by the Prime Giant, Starking, Van and Sweet Heart. The most important varieties in terms of volume are the Prime Giant and the Sweet Heart. The farm is in an area with a microclimate that guarantees or facilitates the harvest of calibers above 24. The 26 and 28 are the most common, but varieties like the Sweet Heart can reach up to 30 and 32 with a very good color and a high Brix, even in those where the red is not as intense,” says Silvia Madrueño. The product is packed in bulk in 2- and 5-kg cardboard boxes, in addition to IFCO boxes and other packaging formats requested by customers.
“We implement good agronomic management to ensure that the cherries have a long enough shelf life that allows them to reach the stores in great condition. We extend the shelf life without any impact on the fruit's quality. We offer a traditional, organic, PGI-protected product grown in a microclimate that gives it unique qualities, so we don't compete on a large scale; we focus on clients who seek this exclusivity. Although we export most of the production, we are interested in working in the domestic market, highlighting the product's proximity, which is in line with the organic philosophy of its producers.”