Big crop damage after heavy rainfall
in southern Spain
The heavy rainfall in southern Spain over the last few days has had devastating consequences. The death toll has risen to ten. In the province of Murcia five people have lost their lives, in Almeria three and in Malaga two, reported a spokesperson from the regional government in Andalusia on Saturday. Hundreds of people have been evacuated according to local media. The extreme weather also disrupted trains between Madrid and Valencia. Some roads have been washed away. A bridge on the Autovia del Mediteraneo - the road between Vera and Cartagena was broken in half.
The heavy rainfall began on Friday evening. The front moved north towards Catalonia and Balearen. In the last few days there were also deaths in Morocco due to heavy rain. The impact of the downpours on the Spanish agriculture is huge. Polytunnels have been damaged, but the biggest damage is to open ground cultivation. In Pulpi the fields of lettuce, cauliflower and artichokes are completely underwater. The citrus orchards have also been affected, but less than the vegetables.
Last Winter was the driest ever in Spain and the Spring was also exceptionally dry. Rain was desperately needed, and throughout the Summer hardly any fell. The result: the driest Summer on record. Autumn began this month and at last some rain fell in some areas, but it was too much rain at one time which led to flooding and various areas in the region of Malaga were evacuated. Last night in the south and east of Spain there were thunderstorms and more heavy rain with up to 150mm falling in a short time. Particularly Antequera, a region in the Malaga province is experiencing big problems at the moment.
Publication date: 10/1/2012
Spanish season about to go
into full swing
Thomas Bos from Thomasol Gestión S.L, is an agent, transport mediator and handles trade and commissions from all of the Spanish fruit and vegetable production areas. According to the Dutchman, the damage in Spain from the heavy rainfall is in places very severe. "Lorca, Puerto Lumbreras, Cuevas del Almanzora and in the north of Pulpi are most affected. To the south of Lorca, 120-140 litres of rain per m² fell on Friday afternoon, this was in a two to three hour period."
The damage in especially big in the iceberg salad and broccoli plantations. The full extent of the damage won't be known for another 80-90 days when the crops are harvested. There will most likely be a big hole in the market from the end of November to mid December when these crops were due to be harvested.
The damage in the protected vegetable cultivation in Almeria and surrounding areas, is not expected to be so severe. A lot of rain fell between Aguilas and Mazarron where various tomato growers are situated."
Thomas has this week started with the export of the first greenhouse courgettes, Chinese vegetables and Spanish lemons. "The export has only just begun. The German retailers are claiming that the prices should be lower due to the start of the Spanish vegetable season, but this not the case because there is not that much Spanish produce on the market yet. The Spanish season is two or three weeks earlier than last year, but certainly not in full swing. The real volumes are expected in a couple of weeks."
As far as Bos can see there is not that much change in the Spanish greenhouse area this season. "In Almeria they are talking about a huge increase in the bell pepper area, which has been taken from tomatoes. Courgettes and aubergines remain pretty much the same quo area. I do expect a change in the open ground acreage. Last year the iceberg lettuce season went pretty well, but the broccoli market was bad. Last year Holland had broccoli available until week 48."
Thomas expects the economic situation in Spain will influence the fruit and veg exports. "I expect problems, especially in the transport sector. You don't notice the problems much in daily life, but they are always big problems lurking behind closed doors. What troubles this will cause for our sector remains to be seen. You notice that the banks ask to see the client files of the companies. When there is no guaranteed profit, there will be no finance offered and because of this you get a shift in the market."
For more information:
Calle Venta de la Remuda 8
03560 El Campello-Alicante
Tel: 0034- 669 636 873
Fax: 0034- 965 632 791
US (WA): Good outlook for tree fruit despite hail
With apple shortages hitting key parts of North America and Europe this year, hail in Washington this summer threatened to further curtail supplies of tree fruit. Though local suppliers still have to contend with a shortage this year, it's expected that both apples and pears will have good seasons in terms of quality and volume.
Hailstorms this summer hit several parts of Washington state, but, according to Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for Domex Superfresh Growers, that didn't significantly affect this year's supply of apples.
“It looks like there will be more apples than the State initially estimated,” he said. “Even after the hail, we had more fruit to sell than last year, and now that we see the harvest picking long, we expect to be up appreciably over last year.” He added that, though pear volume is slightly down from last year, much like apples, hail did not affect this year's supplies of pears. That's good news because, with apple shortages throughout the country this year, growers will have to work hard not to lose consumer interest, and having a good apple crop and a good pear crop can help with that.
“Our hope is to keep shelf space normally reserved for local apples stocked with apples so the local growers can get that space back next year when they have normal crops,” said Queen. “The exciting piece of news with a good apple crop and a good pear crop is that when you promote apples and pears together you get a lift of 15 percent.”
Though prices, state volume and quality have been good for both crops, Queen said that the major challenge will be to make sure that growers and retailers don't lose any ground because of this year's overall national shortage of apples.
“The biggest threat this year will be a lack of apples to cover all the markets,” he said. “If the shelf space shifts to other fruit, we will have to earn it back next year when all the apple-growing regions are back up to normal crop volumes.” But that's a challenge he thinks the industry can meet.
“We have been working closely with retailers to retain our traditional shelf space and assure that they their apple category will be very profitable this year”, he said.
For more information:
Domex Superfresh Growers
Tel: +1 509.966.1814
Spain: 170 million Euro in losses
due to frosts and hail
Frost and hailstorms have caused losses of up to 170 million Euro this year for the fruit industry in Spain. According to data from the Spanish Association of Combined Agricultural Insurance Companies (Agroseguro), 170 million will be paid to fruit growers; 90 for the damages caused by hail and the rest for the low temperatures. Agroseguro estimates that 65,000 hectares have been affected by adverse weather.
But this data involve exclusively those with insurance coverage. It must be taken into account that there are uninsured producers, and that insurances do not usually cover all the damages, as there will be differences between what the appraisal says and the actual performance that the land would have delivered.
In any case, Agroseguro's statistics give an idea of the severity of the damages for the Spanish fruit sector. According to the entity, what will be paid in compensations this year is the highest figure since fruit damage insurances exist.
By regions, the most affected have been Murcia, Catalonia and Aragon. In Murcia, 12,000 hectares have suffered damages, for which 47.5 million Euro will be paid in compensations; in Catalonia, 13,174 hectares and 45.9 million Euro; and in Aragon 11,500 hectares and 26.37 million Euro in compensations.
These are followed by the Region of Valencia, with 13 million Euro in compensations; La Rioja, with 12.2 million Euro; Extremadura, with 11.9 million; and Andalusia, with 11.22 million Euro in compensations.
Publication date: 10/2/2012
Eating cherries lowers risk of gout attacks by 35 percent
A new study found that patients with gout who consumed cherries over a two-day period showed a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared to those who did not eat the fruit. Findings from this case-crossover study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), also suggest that risk of gout flares was 75% lower when cherry intake was combined with the uric-acid reducing drug, allopurinol, than in periods without exposure to cherries or treatment.
Previous research reports that 8.3 million adults in the U.S. suffer with gout, an inflammatory arthritis triggered by a crystallization of uric acid within the joints that causes excruciating pain and swelling. While there are many treatment options available, gout patients continue to be burdened by recurrent gout attacks, prompting patients and investigators to seek other preventive options such as cherries. Prior studies suggest that cherry products have urate-lowering effects and anti-inflammatory properties, and thus may have the potential to reduce gout pain. However, no study has yet to assess whether cherry consumption could lower risk of gout attacks.
For the present study, lead author Dr. Yuqing Zhang, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University and colleagues recruited 633 gout patients who were followed online for one year. Participants were asked about the date of gout onset, symptoms, medications and risk factors, including cherry and cherry extract intake in the two days prior to the gout attack. A cherry serving was one half cup or 10 to 12 cherries.
Participants had a mean age of 54 years, with 88% being white and 78% of subjects were male. Of those subjects with some form of cherry intake, 35% ate fresh cherries, 2% ingested cherry extract, and 5% consumed both fresh cherry fruit and cherry extract. Researchers documented 1,247 gout attacks during the one-year follow-up period, with 92% occurring in the joint at the base of the big toe.
“Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack,” said Dr. Zhang. “The gout flare risk continued to decrease with increasing cherry consumption, up to three servings over two days.” The authors found that further cherry intake did not provide any additional benefit. However, the protective effect of cherry intake persisted after taking into account patients’ sex, body mass (obesity), purine intake, along with use of alcohol, diuretics and anti-gout medications.
In their editorial, also published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, Dr. Allan Gelber from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. and Dr. Daniel Solomon from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University Medical School in Boston, Mass. highlight the importance of the study by Zhang et al. as it focuses on dietary intake and risk of recurrent gout attacks. While the current findings are promising, Gelber and Solomon “would not advise that patients who suffer from gout attacks abandon standard therapies.” Both the editorial and study authors concur that randomized clinical trials are necessary to confirm that consumption of cherry products could prevent gout attacks.
Publication date: 10/2/2012
The California Standard for Navel Oranges
A tastier California navel orange will hit the market this season, thanks to seven years of consumer research that has resulted in the all-new California Standard. The California Standard is the new standard by which all California navels will be measured, in an effort to ensure a better navel orange eating experience and better sales results. Previously, California navels were required to meet a ratio measurement, which the industry has now shown to be an ineffective predictor of eating quality. The new California Standard instead measures the balance between brix (sweetness) and acidity, which is a superior indicator of sweetness and taste.
Through field testing, it is anticipated that The California Standard will significantly improve eating quality and sales, without impacting availability.
“We realized that we needed to strengthen our position in the marketplace and pay as much attention to the inside of the fruit as we have to the outside,” noted Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual.
“We, as an industry, took it upon ourselves to do the research, and find a solution that will benefit the grower and the consumer. The California Standard is that solution.”
The California Standard is the result of consumer research conducted by California Citrus Mutual, the California Citrus Research Board, the University of California and USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The taste studies concluded that Brix minus Acid is a better predictor of flavor than the previous sugar-to-acid ratios. The new Standard was recommended by the California Citrus Mutual, supported by the citrus industry and ultimately adopted into regulation by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
For California Citrus Mutual board chairman Tom Wollenman, The California Standard means that “consumers will receive a product early in the season that has a higher level of flavor acceptability. A better indicator of good flavor is the essence of the Standard.”
Technically, the formula for The California Standard is (Brix – (TA*4))*16.5. What that means for the broker, the retailer and the consumer is a navel orange that is tastier – and more consistently tastier, Nelsen added.
The consumer-based research documented several key points that led to the development and adoption of The California Standard.
• Competition in the produce aisle has increased and fresh fruit consumption has increased, while fresh orange consumption has dropped
• Early season navels tend to have low customer satisfaction • A positive eating experience would cause 65% of consumers to eat more navels
• The California StandardTM replaces 35% of less-tasty fruit with fruit that meets consumer expectations
• The California StandardTM exhibits a 90%+ accuracy in determining purchase intent.
“With The California Standard we can deliver good fruit at the first delivery, to shorten the repurchase cycle and improve sales,” Nelsen concluded. “It’s all about better fruit at the right time.”
For more information: Joel Nelsen
The California Standard Tel: 559-592-3790 www.thecaliforniastandard.com