'peace of mind, but lower yield'

Resistant varieties defeat New Delhi virus in Almeria's zucchini campaign

Almeria's zucchini export campaign is coming to an end. The season was characterized by a significant decrease in production compared to last season, stated Jose Luis Escobar, from Berdea, the agricultural society (SAT) behind the King Courgette zucchini brand. “This decrease has been due to a set of factors. We had a very hot campaign start that made the plants suffer quite a lot and be very affected by aphids. On our family farm, the situation was so bad that we even had to uproot the plants.”

“One thing has been a consequence of the other because the increase in heat created the optimal conditions for the pest to expand,” the grower specialized in zucchini stated. “In addition, the heat caused many producers to delay sowing as much as possible. As a result, not much had happened by November, when usually October is a month in which there is already movement in almost all markets.”

Another factor that led to the decrease in volume in this campaign is of a varietal nature, Jose Luis added. “The virus that affects zucchini production the most is the New Delhi virus. It's driven producers mad for many years, as it's almost uncontrollable; but in the last campaign there began to be new resistant varieties that have been produced widely in Almeria. Producers have been using these resistant varieties, so this year there have been hardly any problems with the New Delhi virus. However, these varieties are less productive than non-resistant varieties. Almost all farmers agree that these varieties give them a very large peace of mind, but that they have a lower yield per square meter.”

“The lack of volume has been a key factor throughout the campaign,” stated Jose Luis, “but it has kept prices stable. There have not been many ups and downs in the price charts despite the fact that there was little volume in circulation, probably because other countries have produced less this winter.”

“Zucchini is a staple product for Europeans”
Zucchini continues to be a very interesting item in the vegetable segment. “It is a staple product for Europeans, as demonstrated by our purchases, which are stable year after year. We produced different zucchini varieties until last year. We produced yellow, round, green, and white zucchini, each of which has its own market. However, this year we saw at the beginning of the campaign that we needed certainty so we decided to focus on green zucchini, but we hope we'll return to producing the other specialties next year.”

Berdea SAT specializes in the production of this vegetable, which it markets under its King Courgette brand, a benchmark in European markets. “We used to be Escobar & Castañeda SL company, but we transformed into an SAT when the farmers joined the company so that we could have a common framework and a stronger structure with which to face the requirements and demands of the export market.”

“In fact, 95% of our sales are international. We grow our product on about 150 hectares in the area of Las Norias de Daza and all our facilities are oriented to manual packaging; zucchini has a very fine skin and we prefer the artisanal format to the use of calibrators to maintain its quality.”

This year, as always, the end of the campaign will depend on when the Dutch, Belgian, and -most importantly- the French productions reach the market, Jose Luis stated. “We'll be here servicing the export market as long as customers need us,” he added.

For more information:

King Courgette
C/ Loma del Viento s/n
04716 Las Norias de Daza, El Ejido (Almería)
Tel.: +34 950 60 79 10

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