Israeli citrus production to return to normal this year after disappointing 2019
After a year that saw a big decline for Israeli citrus production, the industry expects the 2020 season to bring things back to normal.
Across citrus categories, producers expect quantities to meet production figures this season.
For 2020, Israeli citrus anticipates production to return to levels more in line with previous years, reaching an estimated 525,000 metric tons (MT). In contrast, total citrus production in 2019 was "extremely low", according to a newly released USDA Gain report.
Producers in the country saw decreased production across all categories in 2019.
So, the industry is looking up for the current season and expects a return to average numbers so long as weather conditions aren't as bad as they were last season.
In 2019, Israeli producers pointed to the weather as the principal cause of reduced production. Heavy rains across the country delayed harvest and led to quality issues, says the report.
A rare occurrence, Israeli farmers had to irrigate during the winter this year as a result of the severe rain. Many orange trees were not harvested because of flooding.
However, it looks like the makeup of Israeli citrus growing is changing with trends. The report estimates that planting areas will decrease this season. It attributes this decline to a period of change between easy peeling varieties and grapefruits. This season, producers uprooted easy peelers because they are less in demand, replacing them with grapefruits.
Oranges, mandarins and tangerines
As oranges are less attractive in international markets, Israeli oranges will primarily be sold domestically, details the report. In 2020, a 12% year-on-year increase in production is expected. This makes up for the losses of the 2019 season.
Or variety tangerines are Israel's number one exported citrus. It represented 92,400MT of the total 102,000 T of mandarins and tangerines exported. Overall, the mandarin and tangerine category makes up 63% of all citrus exports.
Looking forward, the industry expects production to be at 200,000MT. The rise is in line with rises across citrus categories. In the previous year, tangerine and mandarin production was much lower than estimated.
Behind the Or tangerine, Red grapefruits are the second most important citrus for the industry. Farmers planted new plots of grapefruit, catching onto developing export demands. With 325 new hectares of grapefruit, Israeli citrus is responding to demand from Asian markets.
Plans for Israeli citrus
Currently, the country is looking for new markets. Specifically, it wants to export more grapefruits to Japan and China. The industry is also looking to enter the Indian market.