… As a responsible thriving renewables company, we’re increasing efforts in awareness. Not just for our solutions, but the local and regional Algarve environment.

This week we focus on the Algarve orange grower, and their plight. With 2020 being such a dry year, plenty of challenges remain for farmers. Getting product out the ground has never been harder. Recently the plight of the sector was highlighted. Agronomists are warning something must be urgently done to save a €145 million industry. If the drought situation wasn’t so bad, add in the fight against common fruit fly and citrus greening. Bad things come in threes.

The fruit fly pest is a serious one. It causes fruit to turn yellow and drop. The same size as the housefly, (but yellow in colour with brown-black markings), the female lays eggs into fruit. The larvae hatches then burrows inside the fruit to feed on pulp for up to 12 days. Next larvae drop from the fruit and pupate in soil. The fruit is spoiled due to holes and white larvae. The pupae survive in the soil to emerge as flies after the winter. This cycle is repeated.

Citrus greening is caused by a vector-transmitted pathogen. Causative agents are motile bacteria, (moveable cells of organisms) helped by psyllids, or plant lice. Common visual symptoms are the yellowing of the leaf veins and adjacent tissues; followed by splotchy mottling of the entire leaf, then premature defoliation. This in turn affects the trees by causing dieback of twigs, bearing off-season flowering, and the production of small and misshapen fruit. Worse, the fruit stays green at the bottom and tastes bitter.

The challenge is to rid the African psyllids, which were first found in South Africa in 1947. They are a menace in Portugal and Madeira. Thankfully this species is sensitive to high temperature and will not develop at greater than 25°C. But prior to 2004 they were not found outside the African continent. Control by cultural methods like antibacterial management, removal of infected plants, frequent scouting, tracking and crisis declaration will help mitigate. But no cure exists just now.

Get your oranges from Mr Frutas http://www.mrfrutas.com/index.php?lang=en

More good news is thanks to exceptional growers, you can buy fabulous product in the Algarve. Check Quinta do Vale da Lama and Quinta Seis Marias (Lagos); Horta da Torre (Silves); Convent Bio (Lagoa); Maria Flaminga (Taveira); Open air Bio Market (Portimao); Quintana da Fornalha (Castro Marim); Dias de Aromas (Faro).