With an annual production of over five million tons during the last decade, Spain is the largest producer of citrus fruits in the European Union (EU) and 6th in the world after Brazil, China, the United States, Mexico and India.
This genus of trees and shrubs belonging to the rue family (Rutaceae), with flowers that divide into four or five parts, includes limes, oranges, lemons, grapefruits, pomelos and mandarins.
According to the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), Spain holds the first position among citrus fruits exporters in the world when it comes to mandarins, oranges and lemons, with more than half of its production being sold overseas.
For the 2020/2021 season, the regional Ministry of Agriculture forecasts a harvest of 3,482,883 tons, which is 13.5% more than last year (+415,366 tons), but 568,651 tons less than two years ago, one of the highest in the last thirty years reflects.
As the main Spanish citrus-growing region, both in terms of the area dedicated to this crop (approximately 182,000 hectares, almost 60% of the total) and in terms of quantity (more than three million tons per year, also almost 60% of the total), the Valencian Community stands out.
Nevertheless, despite its economic relevance, there has been an annual 1% drop in the surface used, and this trend is likely to continue due to increased cheap imports from Morocco and South Africa.
I remember that last winter, at a traditional market nearby, oranges were sold at ridiculously low prices: three kilos for one euro. The owners of those trees probably had harvested the fruits themselves, because they just didn’t want to let them rot away.
Following that principle, today around noon I went with three former classmates from the German School in Valencia and some of their family members to a nearby municipality, where the parents of one of them have a weekend house and a little orchard, planted in the 1970s.
Armed with all kinds of pouches as well as secateurs, the seven of us spent about an hour doing hobby farming. It was great fun, especially as we enjoyed perfect weather.
To the amusement of my friends, I took home an impressive amount of almost untreated oranges and lemons. As I had already decided to share them with my neighbors and everybody else interested, back home I immediately packed them into Taiwanese plastic bags. That’s my nature!
P.D.: The sweet, very juicy Valencia orange type was first hybridized in the mid-19th century by William Wolfskill (1798-1866) in California.