Timing and Predictions
The Egyptian citrus season has started well fuelled by strong demand for vitamin C rich fresh fruit. Egyptian citrus has been growing at a rapid pace over the past few years and each crop sees an increase in volumes and quality continues to improve year-on-year.
Last year, total Egyptian citrus export volume was approximately 80 million cartons. There is an expected increase of 20% this year. This increase is in large part due to new plantings and young trees coming into production. In addition, advanced agricultural practices and preparation techniques are playing a significant role in the increasing volumes of citrus fit for export. Lastly, investments in new packing technologies is also helping to get more citrus on the shelf.
Weather and Sizing
In 2019/2020 there were weather challenges with a strong heat wave that disrupted fruit growth resulting in a slightly reduced crop. This growing season, the weather was nearly perfect for citrus farming that will help Egypt to reach a 20% increase in volume.
All provisional information received points to a record crop with very good quality when looking at color, skin texture, firmness and flavor.
The Navel crop has started harvest and the fruit is looking very good. Sugar levels are high at around 13-14% and the taste notes are great. Fruit is firm and skins are smooth with a full orange colour. The fruit is slightly bigger than last year and peak on count 48/56. Egyptian Navels are expected to keep running until middle January (week 3) with some growers finishing slightly later in week 5.
After Navels, growers will turn their attention to the Valencia variety at the end of January (Week 5). The Valencia crop, although still 6 weeks away, is also looking very promising with peak sizes expected around counts 56/64. The skins are smooth and the condition seems stronger than last year, which will yield longer shelf life and better eating quality.
Looking at soft citrus, growers are busy with Fremont and Merave crops. Size spread is good and brix levels are between 12 and 14%. Volume is expected to be down by around 20% due to the alternative bearing nature of soft citrus. The 3 varieties already being packed are Orri, Honey Murcott and Golden Nugget.
Orri will finish off by the end of January (week 5) and Honey Murcotts will finish by the end of April (week 18). Fruit size spread is good, and the fruit quality is better than last year with smooth skins and very good eating quality.
Trading + Quantities
In summary, we predict an Egyptian Citrus season filled with good quality and condition, and with good volumes to match. With continued positive weather and no unforeseen interruptions, this season’s total Egyptian citrus crop is estimated to yield between 96 – 100 million cartons packed.