Tens of millions of kilos of Navelina oranges are being sent directly to industrial juice processing factories because of the large number of small sizes and the outbreak of creasing, an alteration of the fruit's rind that manifests itself with lumps on the skin.
Commercial firms have stopped picking this variety because its external quality has evolved -in most cases- with deficiencies that make it increasingly difficult to sell it fresh in and out of Spain.
The Navelina orange is very sensitive to creasing. In recent weeks there has been an outbreak of creasing. No one knows its causes or how to remedy it, although there are some mitigation practices.
The immediate consequence is that the Navelina is rejected by fresh buyers, except in certain specific cases where the fruit maintained a reasonable level of quality. Contracts are remade or are simply breached by the buying party. Thus, producers are forced to sell their product to the processing industry, which translates into very poor prices. The intermediaries that proliferate in citrus towns buy oranges for the industry at only 9 or 10 cents per kilo.
Given the proliferation of farmers who want to quickly get rid of the affected fruit, logistical systems have quickly been set up to liquidate entire farms of oranges of this variety. They use containers that are placed on the ground to facilitate loading them and then collect them when they are full. Factory brokers provide the picking crews and make quick agreements with the owners on the basis that they only earn three cents per kilo.
It's another ongoing disaster; at least for the moment.