The North African Kingdom of Morocco is forecasting combined soft citrus and orange crops of 1.74m tonnes for 2011/12, up from 1.66m tonnes the prior year, according to the Moroccan Association of citrus growers (ASPAM).

Exports of these two categories are set to rise to a combined 572,000 tonnes, up from 517,000 tonnes in 2010/11.

Projected orange production and exports show the most significant rise, with yields expected to swell to 976,000 tonnes this season, compared to 875,000 tonnes last year. While orange exports are set to jump from 170,000 tonnes last year, to 222,000 this season.

Orange shipments to EU markets (mainly the UK and Holland) will more than double, from 47,000 tonnes last year, to 100,000 tonnes. Orange shipments to overseas countries, meanwhile, are expected to be on a par with last year’s volume at 122,000 tonnes.

Soft citrus production for 2011/12 is forecast at 763,000 tonnes, down slightly from 781,000 tonnes last season. Total exports are predicted to be up from 347,000 tonnes in 2011/2012 to 350,000 tonnes – of which 100,000 tonnes are earmarked for the EU, and 250,000 tonnes destined for Morocco’s overseas markets, including Russia and the US.

Grower-shippers attribute the projected spike in production and exports to good overall growing conditions and new production.

“The weather has been good up to now, although in some regions (Souss) we experienced very high temperatures over 15 consecutive days in July, which caused fruit to fall from the trees. The loss is in some areas was up to 40 per cent,” Fatiha Charrat, sales and marketing director of Moroccan grower-shipper Delassus, told 'However, as there are new plantations coming to production, Morocco will still get more fruits than last season.'