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We will have NZ Cox’s Orange Pippin arrive in May which are always popular and also the first Royal Gala from Chile in weeks 18/19 followed in June by more NZ arrivals of Gala, Braeburn, Fuji and Cripps pink. Cripps Pink and Granny Smith will also make an appearance from Chile in June and July before the new UK season starts again.
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A large citrus crop from Europe and Especially Spain has seen very low prices on oranges and lemons this season. Coupled with competition from other sources such as Greece and Egypt this has meant a pretty terrible season for European growers with returns in some cases on the conventional market certainly being below the cost of production. Most Spanish growers are still to switch into the final flowering variety Verna in lemons and are still to progress into the Valencia late variety in the oranges so we are likely to see a late finish to the European season on citrus in General and mostly on lemons and oranges. Currently in week 17 on soft citrus we enter the final few weeks of the Nadorcott’s which have had a terrific season for flavour and quality has been pretty strong although it seems a little more skin marking than we would normally expect from a Spanish Nadorcott. Some Late varieties of Mandarin such as Ortanique and Murcott will stretch a few more weeks further into the middle of May.
The Quality of South African citrus is looking good for this coming season. Although conditions in the Eastern Cape have continued to be extremely dry, our usage of irrigation from the Orange River sourced Canal system means we are able to give the trees the required sustenance. With dryer conditions comes less instance of certain pests which prefer a wetter environment. We aim to pick and load the first Clementine’s of the new season when they are perfectly on test for Sugars and acids. We expect the first arrival of clementine’s at the end of May for weeks 22/23. Following on from the nules clementine’s we have some new plantings of Nova Mandarins which are coming on stream to help to bridge the gap between Nules and the late Nadorcott’s.
Our first flowering of lemons from South Africa this coming season is light which will suit the late finish of the European crops. We will aim to start slowly so as not to compete with European late Verna lemons. The same applies on oranges where we expect a late finish on European Valencia’s so we will make a slow start and try to assist a smooth transition between Northern and Southern Hemisphere seasons.
The UK apple and Pear season has been a fantastically large one and a total turnaround from the previous year. Quality has been great, especially on CA storage pears which were very well managed by the packing teams and we have just finished on Conference from Kent this week, week 16! We are transitioning into Southern Hemisphere pears next week, week 17. Due to the late finish on UK and European pear stocks, prices are already very competitive on the Southern Hemisphere pears as sales have been very slow on earlier Williams’s type varieties.
UK Apples from Kent are still of great quality and pressures. We expect supplies from Kent to last through until the end of May with Spartan, Gala and Regal prince all in good supply. The quality of this late CA stored fruit is phenomenal considering the length of time these apples are kept locked away. We are hoping the current cold patch of UK temperatures does not bring any severe frosts which are damaging to the blossoms and forward crops for 2019 of either the pears or Apples.
We are already seeing on Grapefruit a slow down on European supplies and prices rising. We expect supply from Spain to only last until the 3rd week of May and the first South African Grapefruit planned to arrive with us in weeks 22/23 so there will possibly be a small gap which needs planning around, possibly with some Corsican fruit.