Spain freeze

Photo: EFE

Last week’s cold snap has caused millions of euros of losses to fruit production across eastern Spain, fulfilling the worst fears of growers that early blossoming brought on by the mild winter left trees more exposed to the risk of frosts.

The worst losses were suffered in Murcia – the most southern of the affected regions and therefore the one where blossoming was most advanced.

Initial estimates from Murcia’s regional government pegged the losses in the province at €45m, with almonds, peaches, nectarines and citrus the most affected crops. Lettuce and artichokes have also sustained some damage, the authorities said.

According to the data gathered by the government’s agrarian office, the areas of Cieza, Jumilla and Caravaca sustained most extensive damage, with 7,225ha of almond production, 1,986ha of peaches, 1,289ha of nectarines and 823ha of citrus said to be affected.

In Lleida and Valencia, meanwhile, temperatures fell as low as -7oC and although official estimates have yet to be published, early stonefruit varieties are expected to have incurred some losses.

'In peach and nectarine varieties that were still in the phonological state with pink buds there doesn't appear to have been much damage – although it is still too early to give an accurate forecast and we will have to wait until fruit set,' Montserrat Corderoure of Catalan fruit association Afrucat told Fruitnet.

'However, in varieties that had already flowered we have seen losses, albeit a low percentage, especially in R nectarine varieties. Apricots have also sustained some damage but we won't know how much until fruit set.'

The continuation of the cold snap suggests that further losses are likely in the coming days.