Nationwide España releases quality report ahead of shortages
The summer of 2022 was Europe’s hottest on record, according to the global climate report from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S).
Temperatures in autumn and early winter have remained unusually high, leading to severe problems in flowering and production of crops. Varieties more adapted to the cold have suffered from an increase in pests and diseases.
During the winter season of 2022/2023 there has been a significant decrease in the production and availability of cucumbers in the areas of Almeria and Granada. Due to the adverse weather conditions, we have seen an increase in “phytopathy”. These conditions continue to seriously affect crops resulting in general crop failures and product shortages.
At the beginning of the season, there was an overproduction due to high temperatures during the flowering period of the plant producing large volumes of cucumbers with non-commercial weights and sizes due to the rapid growth of the plantation. These plants have suffered a great loss of fruit due to the appearance of viruses associated with high temperatures. A large proportion of the farm’s production disappeared in autumn, leaving many farms that should have been producing in January with no fruit. This delay means that there is now a large gap in production. We are now awaiting new crops after suffering low temperatures in recent weeks.
The main factor contributing to the decline in cucumber production is the extreme cold experienced in the region. The low temperatures have disrupted photosynthesis and respiration of the cucumber plants, resulting in a halt in growth and fruit production. In addition, prolonged exposure to temperatures below 0°C has damaged the vegetative and floral tissues of the plants, further diminishing their ability to produce cucumbers.
The below photographs are examples of a cucumber crop where the cucumbers are not heavy enough to be harvested.
Its lack of weight means that it cannot be harvested and in turn, the fruit begins to turn yellow. This can be seen in the following photographs:
This has resulted in the removal and harvesting of crops, even if they are not heavy enough. This exercise is important to keep the plant healthy.
The many challenges over the last few weeks have resulted in significant cucumber shortages. These shortages were caused by the fruit taking a long time to reach sufficient weight to be harvested. A significant volume of low-quality or non-commercial produce was harvested, due to the deterioration of the plants. Until there are significant changes in the weather conditions, this problem is expected to continue in the coming weeks.
The pepper season in Almeria has been “tremendously complicated” this year, a season with less product, highly dependent on weather conditions and the appearance of a new virus Thrips Parispinus This is commonly known as tobacco thrips, a virus associated with ornamental plants in the past, originally from Southeast Asia, now present in pepper crops in the west of Almeria (EPPO Global Data Base). At the beginning of this pepper season, there has been a turning point in terms of its incidence, being detected in a greater number of plots and also more frequently
As stated in the RAIF, females and males are detected on the underside of the leaves and flowers, “this pest begins to be detected in April and reaches its maximum presence in October in greenhouses”. The damages by this pest are food bites of adults and larvae that cause deformations in the tender shoots and in young leaves. On the underside of the leaves there are silvery spots with black dots next to the veins, which cause the curling of the edge of the limbus towards the beam, taking on a filiform appearance. Vegetative and floral buds can become abort. On the fruits silver plates are produced, which eventually turn brownish in colour.
Due to the high temperatures that we suffered last August, a lot of flowers have been lost in crops and therefore a large reduction in production. The flowers that have remained do not have good-quality pollen, which means that the fruit obtained doesn’t have it either.
As a result of this, the poor fruit set in November has led to a significant drop in production in the majority of semi-late and late peppers, which we are already experiencing and may continue throughout the whole month of February at the very least.
At this stage of the season, the middle part of the plant should now be being harvested but there has been almost no fruit set on the plant, hence the lack of production at this stage of the season.
As the plant has fewer fruits, the plant itself grows them in more space and increases in volume, even doubling in size.
We include photos of the state of the farms in which it is possible to observe the absence of fruit in the middle part of the plant.
Aubergines are a fruit that suffers more than other products from climatic changes, and temperature differences affect the growth of the plant severely.
After a very warm winter bringing the crop forward, the excessive heat received during those months has caused a fruit set defect in the plant.
The aubergine crop is very sensitive to sudden drops in temperature, affecting the fattening of the fruit, and harvesting has to be spaced out in order to obtain fruit of optimum size. Currently, we are suffering from a 20- degree difference between day and night, so production has been severely reduced.
The pictures show fruits that do not reach the optimum weight and ripeness after a week of trying to harvest them.
It is the most affected product in terms of crop yield, the appearance of ToBRV has caused the collapse of some crops. The symptoms vary according to the varieties, manifesting themselves with chlorosis, mosaic and small spots on the leaves. Petioles may show necrosis. Fruits may also show yellow and brown spots, which lead to the fruit becoming deformed and developing irregularly.
Botrytis is a common fungus in many environments. It survives on plant parts such as bulbs and debris or as sclerotia (drought and cold-resistant structures) in the soil. It needs moisture (dew, rain, irrigation water) and nutrients for germination. In dry plants, germination takes place at very high relative humidity (RH > 93%). It is a necrotrophic fungus, which means that it secretes compounds that kill plant cells and then feeds from their contents. New spores are formed in the infected area within a few days.
In summary, yield reductions were recorded for all products affected by the low temperatures, with the following estimated values:
Crop Production shortfalls due to cold weather in January.
Tomatoes -35% Cucumbers -50% Aubergines -35% Courgettes -40% Capsicums -40%