Strawberries down by 30 per cent, while blueberry and raspberry volumes also impacted

Huelva strawberries

Inclement weather, rising input costs and new phytosanitary regulations will lead to a big drop in Huelva’s berry production this season.

As the campaign reaches its midway point, soft fruit association Freshuelva estimates that volumes are 30 per cent lower than this time last year. It said production will barely recover in what remains of the campaign.

Freshuelva manager Rafael Domínguez described the current situation as “very difficult” due to many coinciding factors causing uncertainty. He cited skyrocketing input costs, new phytosanitary regulations coming into effect and inclement weather as the main reasons for the fall.

Excessive heat during planting due in October forced growers to replant 20 per cent of plants. This was followed by an excessively cold spell in January and February, causing a significant drop in production and a scarce supply of strawberries in the market.

Domínguez further noted that limits on the amount of water allowed for irrigation – due to low rainfall – is also hampering growers.

Freshuelva also anticipates a 25 per cent fall in blueberry production, due principally to the delayed arrival of low temperatures not allowing sufficient cold hours to accumulate during the winter. The association further noted that the cold spell in the last weeks of February and early March has reduced calibres.

Freshuelva said the reduce water currently available for irrigation will also impact the development of the crop. “We are talking about low-quality water with a high salt concentration that skyrockets in some areas, even tripling that concentration,” it said.

In raspberries, Freshuelva said growers are placing all their hopes on having a positive spring campaign, as the autumn campaign had shown negative results due to fierce competition from countries like Morocco.