"The Sicilian citrus season is once again in the midst of difficulties. During the pandemic and the lockdown, quantities were low and this is also the case for the new season. Many new plantations have been affected by severe weather or other weather phenomena due to climate change. In Sicily, in Catania, many young citrus orchards have been completely destroyed. Some of them were harvest-ready but were hit by wind, rain and hail," said Salvatore Imbesi, managing director of Sicilian Ortogel (pictured).
"The severe flooding in eastern Sicily caused by the hurricane (Medicane) named Apollo with violent gusts of wind that reached 100 km/h, caused 3-4% damage to mature citrus. These percentages are to be added to the lower production, which has been reduced by an average of 30%."
"We've been dealing with this disaster since 25 October 2021. A heavy hailstorm has destroyed ripe oranges. In the case of blood oranges, the damage is not yet quantifiable as the citrus fruit is still ripening. Further damage to the blood oranges will be caused by the rising humidity, which will facilitate the formation of rot caused by mould such as the Phytophthore spp."
"I am dismayed to report that the losses are both economic and moral. The growers are helpless in the face of the power of nature. I would rather not start the new season, given the international conditions related to the increase in the prices of raw materials, energy costs and the logistics chain. It will be a year in which common sense on all sides will have to prevail over economic interests. I believe that the only enemy to be fought will be the reduction of losses."
Organic Sicilian citrus fruit: lower volumes but good quality and size
Thanks to years of strong cooperation with its growers, Ortogel has only one certainty and that is the guarantee that the crop is available for processing; the main commitment will therefore be to pay the growers a fair price.