The Spanish lemon season is currently in full swing, and after the last stocks from overseas have been cleared, Spanish fruit holds a "convincingly dominant" position in the European market, says Juan Antonio Martínez, from Toñifruit. "This year, given the production and quality we have, we will be able to offer a very good service to European operators, both at the beginning with the Primofiori variety and in the second part of the season with the Verna."
"With regard to grapefruit, we are very excited about the campaign because, although we are specialized in the organic, in general, similarly to lemons, this is a species that thrives with the heat and semi-arid climate we have in the southeast, and the fruit this year has a superior quality and taste."
"Besides, due to this year's unfortunate circumstances in Israel, which is a powerful country when it comes to the production of grapefruit, the market may become more dynamic than usual," said Juan Antonio.
In the southeast of Spain, Murcia and the citrus growing area of Alicante have managed to deal with the impact of drought, which is one of the circumstances that have hit Andalusia's citrus productions the hardest this year, especially in the case of oranges. In some cases, irrigation water allocations have covered barely 15% of the water needed for the plantations, which, together with the high temperatures in spring, has taken a toll on the setting of the Andalusian fruit.
"Fortunately, here we didn't suffer the adverse conditions recorded in Andalusia," said Juan Antonio Martínez. "In Murcia, we have also dealt with drought this summer, but that's a problem we have been dealing with for many decades, and in that time, we have been building infrastructures to address it, so this year we have had water from desalination plants, as well as from the transfer (although a bit less), so we have not lacked irrigation."
"In fact, Murcia is going to have a quality orange and mandarin production. Moreover, this year's climatic conditions have led to the fruit ripening a little early, so consumers are enjoying earlier access to a tastier and sweeter fruit."
"We cover the entire campaign with top quality organic fruit"
"As for clementines and mandarins, in the organic segment, Toñifruit covers the entire Spanish campaign. We started in September with the Clemenrubí, which is followed by the Oronules, Clemenules and all other mid-season varieties, and we'll reach May with the Clemenvilla, Tango, Nadorcott, Orri and Murcott; a whole campaign of top quality fruit," he said. And while the so-called premium varieties are harvested in the second part of the season, we cannot ignore the value of the more traditional fruit.
"I would say that the Clemenules, a variety very well adapted to our agroclimatic conditions, and which we can consider local, is the tastiest clementine currently available in the market worldwide. Unfortunately, it has been somewhat displaced by the premium varieties, but it seems that in recent years, and especially in this inflationary context, it has been re-emerging and gaining more and more ground, once the supply and demand of the different varieties has been regulated."
"Another key factor has been that of the seeds," said Juan Antonio. "Over the past few decades, the Clemenules has been negatively affected by cross-pollination with varieties such as the Ortanique, Fortuna, etc., and precisely thanks to the appearance of new premium hybrid varieties that do not cross-pollinate, the Clemenules is again becoming what it originally was, and since it has fewer seeds, it is increasingly appreciated by consumers."
"Lastly, the quality of our organic oranges will be great, but due to the drought, we will have to work with smaller sizes than in previous years. Customers are already aware of this and have been proactive in adapting to the sizes that will be available this year. Contrary to what some may think, this will be an advantage at a time when the purchasing power of families is being affected by inflation, as each mesh that is purchased will contain an extra piece or two."