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October 2012: The rain in Spain falls mainly on the crops

October commenced with some very serious weather in parts of Spain, particularly the South and East. Sudden, heavy rains, swept away roads, cars and buildings. Andalusia was particularly hard hit, and lives were lost.

Agricultural production was also very badly affected, particularly field vegetables and citrus. To a lesser extent olives and almonds also suffered and polytunnels were destroyed in some places.

Adding to Spanish grower's worries was the fact that the long awaited, tariff free, entry to the EU of Moroccan produce came into effect. Perhaps the only relief to be found was that, at the same time, Morocco was predicting a drop in citrus volumes by 25%, some 1.5 million tons, for this year's season.

Parts of Canada were also experiencing heavy rain and the famous Prince Edward island potato harvest, some two thirds of which had already been gathered, became delayed.

A truck driver's pay dispute lead to strikes in South Africa, which held up fruit and vegetable exports. Namibia was notable in the effects it suffered and there were reports of some fresh produce items rising 100% in price due to resultant shortages.

The first test result of from the controversial Irish GM potato experiment were in and the spuds, despite being cultivated in controlled conditions sponsoring infection, were blight free. Non GM potatoes planted alongside had quickly succumbed to the disease.

Discussions between the US and Mexico were taking place about the future of tomato trade between the two countries. The latest surfacing of this debate was sparked by the US Department of Commerce's decision to terminate the import agreement signed in 1996.

Chile got its first unfortunate experiences of PSA in kiwifruit. The Chilean Kiwifruit Committee was quick to point out that the disease was relatively small scale so far, and was, as far as possible, under control.

This year's PMA took place in Anaheim, Los Angeles. The largest fresh produce event in North America attracted large number of visitors - 21,000 attended, with representatives from 50 countries worldwide.

At the same time Fruit Attraction was taking place in Madrid, Spain. Numbers were also high at this event and exhibition participation was so much higher than last year that an extra hall had to be used. Visitors came from a range of international destinations, though North American participation was challenged by the simultaneous PMA.

Hurricane Sandy hit parts of the US at the end of then month, causing concerns for the industry, notably for Florida citrus production. In the event the storm, though devastating to certain areas, passed over the citrus groves largely harmlessly, though not before speculation had an upward effect on prices.