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Spanish stonefruit bounces back

Good climatic conditions have produced a crop of “exceptional quality” producers say

Spanish stonefruit bounces back

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Spanish stonefruit production will be up significantly compared to 2016 as favourable growing conditions herald a return to normal volumes following last year’s weather-induced losses.

Murcia and Catalonia – two of the country’s biggest growing regions – have released estimates for the 2017 stonefruit crop which show production increases in almost every category.

In Murcia, peach, nectarine and flat peach volumes are set to rise by 30 per cent to 371,000 tonnes. Cherries are set for a 5 per cent increase, while apricot volumes will remain similar to last year’s level at 90,000 tonnes. Plum production is estimated to be down by around 25 per cent.

Francisco Jódar of the regional agriculture ministry said optimum growing conditions indicated that quality would be much better than last season.

However, he warned that high temperatures in recent weeks had brought harvesting forward and could result in a glut of fruit on the market.

Catalonia’s 2017 stonefruit crop is expected to weigh in at 407,920 tonnes, a 13 per cent increase on last year’s total, according to the latest forecast released by the regional authorities.

Volumes will rise across the board, with the biggest increases expected in nectarines (+15 per cent) and peaches (+16 per cent).

During a presentation of the new season’s forecasts, Carmel Mòdol of the Catalan Agriculture Ministry said 2017 has been a normal production year characterised by favourable climatic conditions and no significant overlaps are expected with other growing regions.

Normal temperatures and a sufficient number of chill hours led to a short and abundant blooming period, resulting in fruit of exceptional quality with a predominance of large and medium sizes and high brix levels, Mòdol said.

He noted that the season had started well and that prices for early fruit were higher than last year.

Overall, there has been a slight increase in planted area, with new acreage outpacing the uprooting of old orchards.

The number of hectares planted with nectarines and flat peaches continues to rise, while round peach acreage has contracted.

Anecoop said flat peaches were becoming the star of the stonefruit category thanks to their popularity with consumers.

“Bouquet flat peaches are receiving very positive feedback from customers as they have the aroma, taste and flavour consumers are always looking for,” the company said.

“Great efforts have been made to coordinate the different production areas so that this fruit is available for a longer period of time.”

The Spanish season runs from May to September, with the bulk of production located in Catalonia.

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