Known as the ‘black spot’ the disease is caused by a bacterium that causes spots and dark lesions on the skin of the fruit. This citrus disease, one of the most devastating of the world, causes premature fruit drop, reduces crop yields and makes fruits, blighted by heavy stains, not suitable for sale.
Although all commercial citrus is at risk of black spot, maturing lemons and oranges, typical of the Valencia Region, are most vulnerable with the disease spread by spores released from fallen leaves and the citrus fruit during decomposition. The ‘black spot’ in citrus is common in subtropical regions of the world with summer rainfall and is found in many countries in Asia, South America, Africa and Australia. The disease was detected for the first time in the United States during a study of pests of oranges in 2010 in Florida. The potential problem for the Costa’s citrus was brought to light by president of the College of Agricultural Engineers of Alicante, Miguel Valdes. He warned during a conference on food security of the need for the food industry in the province to adapt their production systems to new European regulations on food safety and traceability (tracking products from collection until they reach the point of sale).
Market liberalisation has meant that the EU hardens conditions for competition in the markets for the products to arrive in the best conditions. Valdes said that systems have changed: “For example, there is very limited pesticide use allowed despite the emergence of new pests such as the black spot coming from Brazil to Italy which affects production.” Agriculture, along with tourism, has withstood the crisis well with exports in the Valencia Region in 2014 increasing 15 per cent to nearly three million tonnes of crops. Oranges, lemons, peppers, tomato, lettuce, melons and table grapes are the most demanded products in Europe, according to the Spanish Federation of Exporting Companies of Fruits and Vegetables.
The seminar was devoted to developing new rules on food safety and traceability and another seminar is planned for September to focus on production management to achieve sustainability and to help mitigate climate change.
Source: Euro Weekly News.