• Quote: ‘Indicators to current lemon season 2021-2022 from Vega del Segura in good position to negotiate and generate multiple operations with favourable prices for the producer’ – President of Young Farmers Alicante, José Vicente Andreu

By Andrew Atkinson

Young Farmers ASAJA Alicante foresees the next season of the Vega Baja del Segura lemon will be developed with favourable prices for producers, due to the good context in which the year begins.

The Vega Baja lemon price has risen, with the campaign starting at 0.70 euros per kilo, and benefits from the bad product offered by its competitors, causing a shortage in the EU.

The Vega Baja region takes 40% of the harvest and increases the demand for an organic label, due to the current shortage of supply in the European market, amidst the decrease of imports.

A 50% decrease in production of the Verna variety was recorded in the Vega Baja amidst the DANA Gota Fria in 2019 – having a knock-on effect, due to a plethora of trees not recovering, added to the abundant rains in April, affecting the flowering of trees.

The first lemon purchases are being made at 0.7 euros per kilo, for the ‘one cut’ modality. However the volume is still low.

The first of the year picking of lemons are put on the first-sale market, during September 15 and the end of October.

Estimates of price are between 0.35-0.55, depending on the quality and earliness of the product, according to sources.

Citrus from the southern hemisphere reaching the demanding European market has dropped, as a result of pests, the presence of harmful and prohibited substances detected in controls and unauthorised, added to the increase in shipping costs, due to the lack of containers.

The Vega Baja has 40% of the national production and almost 30% of the turnover, presenting a significant decrease in the harvest of the Verna variety, which reached 50%, from approximately 130,000 tons produced last year, to 60,000 or 70,000 expected to be harvested this year.

After a ruinous campaign in 2020-2021, in which ASAJA Alicante estimated economic losses in the Vega Baja lemon of €110 million (€85 million for the Fino lemon and €25 million for the Verna variety), this year farmers hope to recover and predict a good season for 2021-2022.

“All the indicators lead us to think that the current lemon season 2021-2022 from Vega del Segura will be in a good position in the coming weeks to negotiate and generate multiple operations with favourable prices for the producer”, said President of Young Farmers Alicante, José Vicente Andreu.

The Asaja representative added: “We are also facing a campaign – with some shadows. It is true that we think that this year the prices at origin will be clearly higher than the previous year.

“But it should not be overlooked that the trees carry less kilos, so profitability could fall.”

More than 90% of the 10,000 hectares planted with lemon trees in the province of Alicante are located in the Vega Baja, with an increasing growth of the product with an ecological seal.

Asaja insists on the uncertainty – over guaranteeing water resources – being the main threat of the agrarian production of Bajo Segura. Experts from the Water Institute of the University of Alicante, said the cultivation of lemon in the province requires a water demand of 70 cubic hectometres per year, the highest volume of all agriculture in the province, along with the orange tree.

Lemons produced in the province of Alicante, concentrated in the Bajo Segura bill, are worth €110 milllion annually. Grapes reap €66 million and orange trees €51m.

Farmers, according to the agrarian union, have asked the Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, to cease in the continuous cuts to the Tajo-Segura transfer in Level 3, when its own technicians and the Memorandum Law advise the shipment of 20 cubic hectometres, in order to have enough water for the development of the fruit campaign in optimal conditions.