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Spain: excellent yields in 2019

01/11/2019 - François-Xavier Branthôme - 2019 Season - Read in French
The harvest locally exceeded the threshold of 100 tonnes per hectare

According to the regional daily Hoy, Extremadura is about to reach a target that the region's industrial tomato processing sector has been striving to attain for several years. The autonomous community, which has long been the country's main tomato growing region, is attempting to compete with Andalusia in terms of average yields per hectare, but for the time being, Andalusian growers still have the upper hand. In the region around the city of Seville, the development of production has not only been driven by an increase in planted surfaces, but also by an improvement in agricultural yields, which can reach 105 mT/ha, sometimes even 110 mT/ha. In Extremadura, normal yields usually amount to approximately 90 mT/ha. 

This year, however, thanks to good agricultural practices (seeds, inputs, irrigation, etc.) and above all, thanks to particularly good weather conditions, crops of processing tomatoes have achieved record levels. Temporary figures for the season's results indicate that the average yields in Extremadura exceeded 96 mT/ha, which is 5 mT/ha more than in 2018, and they reached 100 mT/ha in certain fields of the upper regions of the Guadiana River ("Vegas Altas del Guadiana"). This result is all the more significant for the fact that it has been recorded over a surface of several tens of thousands of hectares.

Although it is spectacular, this increase in production compared to last season was nonetheless expected, insofar as the absence of storms and the gentle weather conditions have been in sharp contrast with the extremely adverse conditions of the 2018 season. Crops did not suffer from overly high temperatures, "so the plants developed correctly, and there was little rain in September, which is a month that is important in order to end the season satisfactorily," pointed out Domingo Fernández, the President of Acopaex (Association of agricultural cooperatives of Extremadura).

The Conesa group specifically planted 1 700 hectares more than in 2018, and processed 716 300 mT throughout the region (out of the 2.2 million tonnes processed this year in Extremadura), with a further 273 200 tonnes processed in Andalusia, totaling 989 500 mT throughout Spain, to which it is necessary to add approximately 152 000 tonnes processed in the Portuguese plants operated by the group.

A report presented by the Technological Observatory for the Processing Tomato Industry, which is managed by the CTAEX (National Center for Food Technology of Extremadura), demonstrates that for the 2019 season, more than 3 million tonnes of tomatoes were subject to contractual agreements in Spain, for a planted surface of some 33 000 to 33 500 hectares. The 2.2 million tonnes processed in Extremadura this year were harvested from a total surface of approximately 23 000 hectares, and shipped to the processing plants of 14 different companies, the foremost of which are the factories run by Conesa. "It has been a record season in terms of performance. The situation is improving by the day. This is good news for growers and for the industry as a whole," summed up General Director, Manuel Vázquez Calleja.

At the same time, 735 325 tonnes grown on 6 880 hectares have been processed in Andalusia: the region's average yield amounted to close on 107 mT/ha in 2019.

Throughout the rest of Spain (mainly in the Ebro valley), contracts were drawn up for approximately 280 000 tonnes of tomatoes, grown from a total surface of between 3 400 and 3 500 hectares. The statistics presented in the CTAEX report mention average yields of about 79 mT/ha.

2018 summary
The report prepared by the CTAEX Observatory also includes data from last year. Overall production in Spain from the 2018 season amounted to 2.8 million tonnes, which is 8.04% of the global production of processing tomatoes.
In Extremadura, 21 495 hectares of processing tomato crops were planted (which is 1 700 hectares less than in 2019) and final production amounted to 1.9 million tonnes, accounting for 69% of the Spanish total. The average yield in Spain amounted to approximately 89 mT/ha.
At the same time, 5 740 hectares (which is 1 300 hectares less than this year) were planted in Andalusia, and slightly less than 600 000 tonnes of tomatoes were produced there. The Andalusian yield was similar in 2018 to what it has been in 2019, at about 105 tonnes per hectare.

2019 Subsidies: provisional amount

At the beginning of October, the FEGA (Spanish agricultural guarantee fund) published preliminary figures for 2019 subsidies allocated to processing tomato crops.

The preliminary unitary amount of this aid for processing tomatoes was EUR 192.717303 per hectare, for a total recorded surface of 32 950.87 hectares. FEGA has a budget of EUR 6.352 million dedicated to this usage.

The crop surfaces planted with tomatoes for processing are distributed across Extremadura (23 130.67 ha), Andalusia (6 967.85 ha), Navarre (1 818.87 ha), Castilla-La Mancha (545.06 ha), Aragon (440,43), Catalonia (40.40 ha), Murcia (6.33 ha) and La Rioja (1.26 ha).

The autonomous communities will be able to carry out early payments of coupled aid before 1 December 2019, and this can reach as much as 70% of the total payment.


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