Start of the harvest significantly earlier than planned

Spain expects iceberg lettuce shortage for Christmas

The production and quality technical services of the Association of Producers-Exporters of Fruits and Vegetables of the Region of Murcia (PROEXPORT) have verified in their visits to various iceberg lettuce producers that the excessive heat recorded in October in the south east of Spain has caused the harvest in Murcia, Almeria and Alicante to start between 10 and 12 days earlier. Due to having to harvest ahead of the normal production cycles, and given the current rainfall, iceberg lettuce growers are concerned about the prediction of a lower supply in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Temperatures and earlier start of the harvest
Indeed, the month of October was very warm and dry, according to records of the State Meteorological Agency (AEMET), which reported that this October was the tenth warmest since 1965 and the seventh warmest of the 21st century.
The high temperatures recorded in early October continued throughout the month. Specifically, between 24 and 31 October, it was warmer than usual for this month, which led to an advance of between 10 and 12 days in the production cycles. This situation results in the producer working ahead of the planned harvesting program.
The weather situation has stabilised in late November and early December, when the Spanish Levante has been experiencing heavy rainfall, which hinders the normal growth of plantations and, at the same time, prevents the harvest, or makes it more difficult.
Demand forecasts
All in all, iceberg lettuce growers are worried about the weeks before Christmas, when demand increases. Last season, Spain exported 55,118 tonnes of iceberg lettuce in November 2015, while in December this volume rose to 63,837 tonnes, an increase of close to 16%.
With the meteorological conditions forecast for the coming days, it will be difficult for the productions to develop normally and for the harvest to be carried out at the usual pace, due to the impossibility of harvesting on rainy days, and this should have an impact on the volumes available for these weeks.

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