Growers warn of multimillion-euro losses, with almost all of the fruit still to be harvested affected

Agricultural unions in Extremadura are warning that cherry producers face a “catastrophic situation” due to extensive damage caused by the heavy rainfall that has affected the region in recent weeks.

Picota cherry

The area is home of the famous Picota cherry

While no official damage estimates have yet been released, the sector has warned that it faces multimillion-euro losses.

The rains have come just as the fruit was reaching its optimum ripening period, especially the Lapins and California varieties, causing the skin to crack.

Virtually all of the approximately 80 per cent of the fruit still left to be harvested has been impacted, growers said.

The Valle del Jerte Cooperative Group, the region’s biggest cherry producer, told Cadena Ser radio station that barely 20 tonnes of fruit are currently entering the packhouse each day compared with the usual 300 tonnes.

The rains have compounded an already challenging season due to late flowering and a very short ripening window, which has led to an abundance of smaller sizes compared with previous years.

On Tuesday the mayors of the Jerte Valley, home of the famous stalkless Picota cherry, agreed to request the declaration of a catastrophic zone for this region in the north of Cáceres, where cherries are the main driver of the local economy.