The 2009/10 citrus season started positively in Israel, with good October prices compared with the year before.
However, competition form China is causing concern amongst growers. Jaffa red pomelo has disappeared from the shelves in Europe, replaced by the Chinese pomelo. As a result, total exports from Israel fell by 50 per cent, and growers are anxious about the future of this variety.
Pomelo producers in Israel, in conjunction with agricultural research institutes and governmental assistance, are due to alter their strategy in the marketing of this variety to the European market.
Meanwhile, exports of White Marsh grapefruit were down by 17 per cent up to week 44, while exports of the Sunrise variety were up by 11 per cent.
Throughout Israel, the total production area for citrus is 17,720ha. A number of citrus varieties, including Shamouti, White, Sweetie and red pomelo have seen a decrease in production area since last season, with 1,632ha being uprooted.
On the other hand, varieties such as Or and Ora have witnessed an increase of some 1,300ha. These new varieties are the growth engine for the renewed citrus industry in Israel.
The new tree plantings in the Jezreel Valley are in addition to 1200ha of new citrus plantations in other regions of the country.
In order to conserve fresh water, citrus growers uprootold orchards and less economical varieties such as red pomelo, Sweetie and White Marsh, which are then replaced with more profitable varieties.
Total citrus production in Israel stands at around 570,000 tonnes, of which 170,000 tonnes is exported fresh, 220,000 tonnes is used in the juice industry and 180,000 tonnes is sold on the local market.
This season, an additional 25,000 tonnes of red grapefruit is expected to be produced in Israel, as well as an additional 10,000 tonnes of Or.