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Rio Grande do Sul's orange, bergamot, and lemon harvests are expected to fall by more than 50% because of the rains

Rio Grande do Sul is expected to lose more than 50% of its orange, bergamot, and lemon harvest this year because of the severe floods caused by heavy rains and storms that have hit this Brazilian state. The estimate was made public on Wednesday by the technical assistant manager of Emater/RS-Ascar, Luis Bohn, at an extraordinary meeting of the Citrus Sector Chamber of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Sustainable Production, and Irrigation (Seapi).

"Citrus crops are one of the most affected crops, with fruit falling and defoliation, among other problems," Bohn said.

According to the coordinator of the Sectoral Chamber and president of the Association of Fruit Growers of Montenegro, Pedro Wollmann, the problems caused by the weather issues vary in severity in the Caí Valley.

"Nearly 80% of citrus growers have been directly affected and have suffered total or partial losses. We've never seen so much damage in the history of citrus farming in Rio Grande do Sul," Wollmann said.

The early citrus varieties have been some of the most affected. The high humidity caused a 70% loss in bergamot production in Caí and Ponkan. Late varieties have cracks and fungal diseases. Losses were also recorded in Bento Gonçalves and Veranópolis.

"We are worried about the trees' ability to retain the fruit, which is falling. Citrus cultivation has a long vegetative phase, which begins with the early varieties and lasts until September and October. From my experience in the field, the rains affected all the varieties that bear fruit," stated Claudinei Baldissera, technical director of Emater/RS-Ascar.

Before the floods devastated several municipalities of the Central Depression of the State, the sector, which initially expected to produce 268,000 tons of oranges, expected a 40% in production. This decrease was expected due to the large loss of flowers in the fields during the spring rains of 2023. The crop is grown on 14,500 hectares, 3,950 of which are in the Caí and Taquari valleys. Bergamot production was expected to stand at 164,500 tons, 122,000 of which would be produced in the Caí and Taquari valleys. The region also accounts for 80% of the 18,000 tons of lemons that Rio Grande do Sul produces annually.


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