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More Turkish citrus, but difficult market

Turkish cultivators harvested good volumes the past two seasons. Last season (2015/16), the harvest amounted to 3.9 million tonnes, which is three per cent higher than the season before that. A good volume is also expected for 2016/17, according to a recent report from USDA.

Due to favourable weather circumstance, the volume of oranges increases by three per cent this season. With that, the estimate amounts to 1,854 million tonnes. Adana and Mersin are the most important cultivation areas, good for 84 per cent of production. The orange cultivation struggles with moulds and diseases in Turkey. Although these do not have an influence on the volume yet, they do cause quality problems for the fruit.

Oranges unharvested
The Aegean region estimates yields will be 15 per cent higher than last year. That amounts to 512,000 tonnes of citrus. That increasing line, however, does not apply to all types. Cultivators are digging up orange and grapefruit trees and are switching to the cultivation of lemons. In recent years, the market was bad for the first two products, lemons and strawberries are more profitable. That trend is visible in large parts of Turkey. Cultivators leave oranges hanging on the trees, because it is more expensive to harvest, and the fruit does not make a profit. Besides, there is a lack of packing stations and cold stores.

For tangerines, a growth of two per cent is estimated. Last season, volume was already eight per cent higher, amounting to one million tonnes. Because the internet market for tangerines does not appear to be growing, cultivators have difficulty finding sales for the fruit. Although total volume is increasing, the Adana region is accepting a loss. Frost in January damaged the harvest. Damages were worst for W. Murcott and Freemont. It is expected that these late varieties will not be harvested as much in 2016/17.

Fewer lemons and grapefruits
Producers are estimating four per cent fewer lemons, as a result of frost. The Adana region noted a loss of seven per cent because of frost, but the winter was milder in other regions in 2015/16. Grapefruit has a share of seven per cent of total production. For the coming season a slight increase of one per cent is expected. With that, volume amounts to 250,000 tonnes. Due to a lack of demand, however, cultivation is under pressure. Cultivators are switching to a different type of citrus.

New markets and Russia
Turkey exported 1.5 million tonnes of citrus at a value of 830 million dollar in 2015/16. That is a decrease of four per cent compared to the previous year. That season was also restricted because of the Russian boycott the country implemented from 1 January 2016 onwards, for products including oranges and tangerines. Although the export of grapefruit and lemons remained untouched, the total citrus export to Russia decreased by 43 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015. The export of grapefruit was 13 per cent lower, but according to traders that is not a consequence of the boycott, but of the lower disposable income of Russian consumers. Lemons were the most important export product, good for 290 million dollar. Second is tangerine with 280 million dollar. Oranges followed with 168 million dollar. It is expected that more oranges will be exported this year, on the condition that the situation with Russia remains stable.

The tangerine export is expected to be slightly larger thanks to new access to destinations such as Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Belarus. Last year, export amounted to 569,000 tonnes. The export volume of lemons remains stable. Last season, the country exported 420,000 tonnes, two-thirds of production was exported then. Russia is an important buyer of this type of citrus. Russia is also an important market for grapefruit. For the coming season, a small increase is expected. Last season, about 80 per cent (190,000 tonnes) was exported. Of that, 44,000 tonnes found their way to Russia.

Please click here to read the full report.
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