At the current stage of the summer, and with the melon campaign coming to an end in Almeria, it should be time for the Region of Murcia's season to be in full swing; however, as a result of the problems caused by intermittent rains in June, the amount of fruit in Murcian plantations has suffered a significant decline.
"The excess of water in the fields, but especially the intermittent way in which the rains have fallen, has led to the proliferation of diseases, mainly mildew and Botrytis, which have fully affected the development of the plant. In fact, the impact has been such that most of the plantations have lost practically 100% of the first melon harvest," said Antonio Gómez, manager of the Murcian company Hortiquality.
"We grow yellow melons and we have not been able to pick a single melon in this first harvest. We also estimate that in the second harvest we will obtain between 10,000 and 15,000 kilos per hectare, instead of the usual 30,000 to 40,000. After that, we will have to give up, since there will be no subsequent blooms."
"Normally, the yield per hectare amounts to around 60,000 kilos combining all harvests, from the first to the third, and this year the first harvest has already been lost, and the third one is not even going to happen. The results depend on the variety being grown and the area of the Region, but roughly speaking, I estimate that more than 70% of the total production may have been lost."
"In fact, our customers are currently concerned, because they were not counting on such huge losses (not even we had), but nothing could be done to remedy or prevent it. One day we were treating the fields to prevent diseases and the next we were helplessly dealing with the rains. Also, the temperatures have not helped either, because this all coincided with the plants' vegetative development phase, which has not been carried out correctly."
"To this we must add the impact of diseases," says Antonio. "Every plot has been hit by this situation in one way or another. In the case of yellow melon plantations, which are the ones we grow, the fruits obtained have been weighting less than 800 grams. In some Piel de Sapo plantations, the fruit has not reached the right sugar levels for it to be considered marketable, and other plantations have been given up on completely."
With the Almeria season almost over and the Castile-La Mancha season starting only in late July/early August, "there could be a huge gap in the melon supply in July. Never in the 25 years that we have been producing melon had we seen a similar situation."