BREXIT spells much uncertainty for Spanish fruit and veg on its way to the UK, because of import tariffs, working restrictions and border queues, etc.
But 2019 began with Spain’s fresh produce facing a series of threats much closer to home: parasites and pests!
In March came news from the north of Spain that olive harvests had decreased by as much as 50% in some areas. And the olive fly was behind the devastation in Aragon, one of Spain’s worst-hit regions.
More recently, the Balearics’ Government announced that it was flying 46 experts out to California to study the Xylella bacteria.
This infectious agent has decimated crops in Mallorca, after being discovered on the island for the first time in November 2016. But it isn’t just olives, because the almonds in Mallorca and Ibiza are also under threat.
In Palma, a study of Xylella was conducted on 17 almond and 29 olive varieties to test which were the most resistant.
The Asian wasp is deadly for bees, and, subsequently, the honey produce at Costa Blanca’s beehives, which has been on the decline, by 13.5%, over the past decade.
Some bad business in the past 10 years didn’t help, but a small mite called the Varroa Destructor, which clings to bees and slowly kills them, definitely played its part.
In February, the news broke that Malaga was already beginning to import prickly pears, or chumbos, which usually doesn’t occur until the end of summer, when stocks run low.
Cochineal beetles were responsible, and a plague which swept through Spain saw some plantations wiped out.
Now, however, avocado harvests are set to keep growers busy until mid-May, as long as the fruit’s arch-nemesis, the Rosellinia necatrix fungus, doesn’t wreak its usual havoc.
But there is still hope, though, because Andalucian researchers have discovered that a unique fungus is able to surround an avocado tree, fighting off this fungus while leaving the plant unharmed.
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