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Jorge Martínez, manager of Openagro:

"Spain: "Valencian kiwifruit has an interesting commercial window"

Twelve years ago, the Valencian grower, Jorge Martínez, decided to try an alternative crop to citrus, whose profitability has been plummeting over the last 20 years. After several visits to Galicia, he came to the conclusion that kiwifruit could adapt to Valencia's weather with no major issues. He not only did it, but achieved great success!

"In the beginning, back in 2005, only 4 growers from Picassent were cultivating the crop, and today there are more than 50 producers growing kiwifruit in the province of Valencia. At the moment, we at SAT Actinidia have 100 hectares devoted to kiwis," explains Jorge Martínez, who besides producing kiwis and kakis is also devoted to the marketing of agricultural supplies, which make up the bulk of his business.

Although the initial investment is very high, he assures us that it is a very productive crop, with between 30 and 40 tonnes per hectare, and easy to produce, although very sensitive to the wind, which can easily damage the trees' branches, which is why it is necessary to cover them with meshes.

"The kiwifruit production in Valencia has an interesting commercial window, as it starts to be harvested in September, when New Zealand and Chile are finishing their campaigns and the quality of their fruit is no longer as good, and about a month before the start of the season in Italy, Portugal or Galicia. The harvest comes to a close in late November," explains the producer.

Valencia stands out for being one of the few areas that are free of PSA bacteria. "We have conducted tests on several occasions and have observed that the PSA bacterium doesn't develop in these weather conditions," he points out.

The two regions where kiwis are produced have approximately 1,000 hours of sunshine per year and their soils have an ideal pH for this crop. These, along with the use of certain cultivation techniques, are the reasons why the kiwis stand out for having a sweeter taste than usual, as well as bigger calibres than average, managing to exceed 200 grams per piece.

Jorge Martínez has agreements with a cooperative for the handling of the kiwifruit, which is marketed under the Actinia brand and is intended for both wholesale markets in Spain and for export within Europe. "The competition with Italy and Greece is getting stronger, as the market is flooded with cheap kiwifruit and we struggle to keep our prices up and convince customers that we are supplying something different."

In any case, it is also worth noting that the rising temperatures in recent years are leading to a reduction in the yields, as has been the case this year, when the total production volume fell by around 50%.

"The kiwifruit tree needs about 800 hours of cold temperatures for an ideal production. We will have to wait some time to determine if this will definitely be a threat to continue growing in the future. In my opinion, I believe nature is wise and that kiwis, just like other fruits, will end up adapting to the conditions of their environment."

For more information:
Ignacio Salvador Marqués (agronomist)
Jorge Martínez Martínez (manager)
C/ Acequia, nº 95, Picassent, Valencia. Spain
T: +34 961 241 177
[email protected]
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