According to forecasts, this year's Clemenules campaign, which should end in mid-January, will be shorter than usual and stocks could run out between December 15 and 20.
"It will be the second shortest campaign in decades. The only time I remember the stocks ran out by December 20 was in the 2019-2020 season when production fell to 250,000 tons," stated Carles Peris, secretary general of La Unió de Llauradors i Ramaders.
According to two citrus cooperatives in the province, this will happen because of weather issues. "The rains in March seriously affected the flowering of the orange trees, as well as the heat in June, which caused a lot of fruit to fall to the ground."
In September, the Ministry of Agriculture estimated Castellon would produce 331,483 tons of Clemenules, but the reality is that the harvest will be somewhat lower. In addition, the warehouses of the province are receiving an unexpected amount of rotten fruit affected by the Mediterranean fly. 30 out of every 100 kilos that arrive at the warehouse are discarded. According to the cooperatives and agrarian organizations, this high level of dexterity will end up negatively affecting the sector's income.
More and more international customers have complained that they have received rotten fruit because of this plague. "The damage that the fly causes is not visible. The mandarin -apparently- leaves Castellon in perfect condition, but in the two days it takes to arrive, for example, in Paris or Berlin, the plague rots it. There are customers who return the goods and others that review the contract prices to decrease them. It's a nerve-racking situation," they stated.
The prices paid in the field, however, have not varied so far. Producers are paid between 0.30 and 0.40 euro per kilo of Clemenules, even though their price in European shops can reach up to 14 euro.