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February: Rain and mild weather dominate the weather

As always at the beginning of the year weather issues were in the news in February 2014.

A rainy harvest season combined with cold weather was delaying shipments of sweet potatoes throughout the U.S. and to Europe and made for diminished volumes. The resulting disparity between supplies and demand made for increased prices.

Large parts of England were still suffering after unprecedented flooding caused by heavy rain and high winds battered the south east of England, along a stretch of the river Thames, Berkshire and Surrey. Thousands of acres of land were underwater. Some had been submerged for weeks. Also in France, Storm Ulla caused great damage in the Finistère. Strawberry producers were the most affected. Strong wind shattered greenhouses and production tunnels. Barely recovered from previous storms, farmers were seriously starting to worry about recurring repair costs.

Meanwhile mild weather in Belgium caused vegetables to mature early and Sicilan strawberries were suffering from warm weather.

In California continued drought meant some growers were facing cash flow issues.

Chilean grape supplies were predicted to be at least 40% lower due to frosts in the previous October.

South African grape shipments were back on track after being hit by bad weather in January. Exports to Europe were ahead of last year's figures by around 800,000 cartons at this time, but the UK numbers were still a bit down (400,000).

Spanish company Planasa, the European leader in varietal selection of berries, launched two new extra early strawberry varieties: Safari and Sahara. These varieties, which were already being cultivated in macro-tunnels and open fields, are adapted to the Mediterranean and subtropical climates.

Giumarra, were in the process of rolling out the Fire and Autumn Fire, two red varieties expected to make their début in the coming years.

The row between the Spanish citrus growers and South African citrus exporters was just beginning to hot up at the start of the year with Spanish producers saying the EU's handling of the situation in 2013 "outrageous", meanwhile Citrus Growers Association CEO Justin Chadwick said, "Non-European citrus-exporting countries like South Africa have previously raised concern about the technical justification of the current regulations, which have been disruptive to citrus fruit exports to the EU in recent years."

Japan opened its doors to Italian Moro and Sanguinello oranges.

Seven Seas New Jersey, a division of the Tom Lange Company, announced a Moroccan clementine program featuring the Seven Seas "Clementines So Sweet" brand into the United States.

Chinese offcials were visiting Mexico
in February to assess crops, refrigeration facilities, and the risks with prospect of supplying berries to China later in the year.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) moved to allow the importation of fresh bananas from the Philippines into Guam, Hawaii, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Japan authorized opening its market to Argentine sweet citrus
. Chancellor, Héctor Timerman, met with the governor of Entre Ríos, Sergio Urribarri, and representatives of the fruit sector, who analysed the implications of the announcement and the steps to follow to start export operations to the Japanese market.

According to ASPAM, Morocco was planning to triple exports to Russia between then and 2018. The Green Morocco Plan aims to increase citrus production to 2.9 million tons by 2018 and boost exports to 1.3 million tons, with the objective of doubling citrus production to around 3.19 million tons per annum by 2020.

The Indian grape harvest was getting underway, and despite weather conditions during the growing season being a bit up and down normal volumes were expected.

The Costa Rican melon season got under way with Cantaloupe melons, growing conditions had been good and normal volumes were expected.

Zespri were hopeful of putting the Psa crisis behind them with a 20-40% increase in Gold production predicted. They also released the highest pay out figure prediction in ten years.

Labour MP Shane Jones accused Progressive Enterprises - owners of the Countdown supermarket chain - of "extortion", demanding cash payments from Kiwi suppliers for past losses.

Fruit Logistica 2014 recorded excellent results, with a remarkable record number of exhibitors and visitors. More than 2,600 exhibitors from 84 countries presented their products and services and a record number of trade visitors, more than 60,000 from 140 countries came along to see what was on offer.

Silver Grape award Citta' di Rutigliano awarded to FreshPlaza during Fruit Logistica 2014.