Citrus growers in north-eastern Argentina have expressed concern over their crops following the worst frosts in 24 years last week.
Roberto Sánchez Loria, president of the Tucumán citrus association, ATC, said the frosts affected the entire province of Tucumán and have had a “serious” impact on this major lemon production region.
He said: “Their intensity, duration and frequency of frost of this magnitude has not happened in the lemon area of Tucumán since 1989. And, as at that time, the consequences are aggravated by the drought that the area has been suffering for the past year.”
Loria added that despite the fact that a large percentage of the planted area is in the undulating foothills of the mountainous parts of the region, which usually attenuates any damaging effects, this time plantations are showing signs of serious damage not just to fruit but also to trees.
The ATC has said that evaluation of the effects is ongoing, but it is already possible to tell that it has been serious. “We can already see marking and rupture to the oil glands on the skin and ruptured juice cells in the flesh itself, as well as incidence of soft fruit,” said Loria. “This all detracts from the commercial value of the fruit and therefore limits quantities that can be sent even to processing.”
The association calculates that lemon output will be down by 20 per cent and easy peelers and oranges will also see volumes fall, possibly by an even greater percentage due to their later harvesting dates. It is also warning that production is likely to be affected next season, also because of the damage to trees.
Knock-on effects are already being felt down the supply chain with a number of packhouses packing for export closed or operating greatly reduced levels of activity.
Loria has added his voice to the call made last week by All Lemon for producers, packers and exporters to be extremely vigilant in their quality controls.