Moroccan citrus producers had hoped to fill a quality and quantity void left by Spain as a result of late-season rains, but multiple detections of medfly larvae in exports have once again shut down their citrus exports into the United States. The prohibition on exports was announced the week prior to Christmas and resulted from a December 16 live larvae find on fruit arriving in Philadelphia. The region excluded for exports is the Berkane region of Morocco.
Morocco’s production has increased by 15% to an estimated 2.3m metric tons over last season. The increase is attributable to a sizeable amount of new navel and mandarin plantings coming into production. Morocco has experienced significant export growth in the EU and Russia in recent years as U.S. destinations have been removed from the market, ironically, because of medfly issues.
Presently, Morocco has 63,420 hectares of mandarin varieties planted. Orange hectares now total in excess of 57,000H. Lemon production is moving in the opposite direction. While never high, it reached its zenith in 2009 with 7,789H harvested. Today, the number is closer to 3800H.
The Moroccan government has a “Green Plan” in place in which government funds are being used to increase planted acreage. Growers can access an estimated $1,200 per H for planting costs. Additional incentive programs include digging wells and purchasing of irrigation equipment for new groves. Quite a contrast – Morocco subsidizes growers while California taxes growers.