Andalusia’s stonefruit producers are hopeful that lower than expected volumes this season will lead to improved prices in domestic and export markets, although the trend towards falling production levels in the Spanish region has continued.

According to exporter association Asociafruit, which represents 80 per cent of stonefruit production in Andalusia and neighbouring Extremadura, the Andalusian season will begin with substantially less fruit than initially forecast.

In fact, the organisation predicts that during the last quarter of April and the first quarter of May the region will produce “less than half” the expected volumes, partly due to frost damage to trees during flowering in the provinces of Cordoba and Seville.

For Asociafruit, the likely drop in production should mean that good prices at the start of season are sustained, although it noted that how these develop during the course of the campaign depended very much on having favourable weather conditions.

However, the lower expectations for the season are very much in line with the dramatic decline in volumes experienced by Andalusia’s stonefruit producers over recent years, partly as a result of escalating production costs.

According to Asociafruit, the amount of hectares under peach, apricot and plum production in the region has fallen from by 43 per cent over the last six years, from 5,000ha in 2007 to 2,008ha this year. Consequently, volumes have also decreased during the period from 110,000 tonnes to 52,000 tonnes.