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February 2012: Growers worried by warm Winter weather

As we headed into February this year one of the biggest concerns for growers, in the Northern hemisphere at least, was the unseasonal warm weather that many places had experienced. Whilst many were enjoying a rare burst of warm, Winter weather, growers were carefully watching their trees and shrubs - the buds and flowers of which had been brought out early by rising temperatures. The worry was that the plants could be struck by late frosts at their most vulnerable time, with implications for crop yields and quality later in the season. The fears, in many cases, sadly proved grounded and many types of crop suffered low yields as a result. The situation was noteworthy for being so widespread, both geographically and in terms of affected fruit types.

February is of course Fruit Logistica time and this year the event attracted over 56,000 visitors from 139 countries. 80% of visitors were from outside the host nation, Germany. The innovation award this year was scooped by sweet, seedless pepper, Angello, whilst Rijk Zwaan's and Bud Holland's achacha came second and third respectively.

The USDA and EU signed a milestone agreement that ensured produce certified as organic by one would automatically be recognised as such by the other, paving the way for increased, premium rate exports.

A war of words between Spain and Morocco over the former's unwillingness the see the latter's fresh produce gain free entry to the EU marketplace. Many Southern Spanish products harvest at the same time as their Moroccan counterparts, causing Spain to worry over its ability to compete. The EU signed the agreement towards the end of the month, despite active lobbying by COAG, enabling duty free exchange of goods between the EU and Morocco, albeit with safeguards aimed at protecting EU growers.

In New Zealand Psa-V continued to cause devastation to the kiwifruit industry and there was much being made of the soon to be released Zespri (gold) G3 variety, which showed signs of resistance to the disease. Some growers were so desperate to get hold of the new variety, having suffered such terrible losses, that they took to illegally grafting it prior to official release. In February Zespri had discovered the illegal plantings and were commencing legal actions to protect their intellectual property rights.

The carbendazim in Brazilian oranges scandal continued during the second month of the year and Fiji suffered a series of floods which caused massive devastation to cultivated areas.

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