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Morocco Sees Citrus-Fruit Yields Falling 20% to 30% on Heat Wave

Morocco’s citrus yields may slide 20 percent to 30 percent from the 2011-12 season after a heat wave in May caused greater-than-usual losses of developing fruit, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Peak temperatures in the first 20 days of May exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), the ministry wrote in a statement on its website today. The heat coincided with a growth stage when citrus trees naturally shed fruit, worsening losses, the ministry said.

Morocco picked 1.82 million metric tons of citrus fruit in 2011-12 that included 976,000 tons of oranges, about 10 percent of production in the Mediterranean region, data from the European Fresh Produce Association show. A 30 percent drop would result in the country’s smallest citrus crop since 2007-08.

“It’s very early to determine the exact or definitive extent of the damages, as the phenomenon of fall continues through to the end of June,” the ministry wrote. “The situation could see a positive development because of the compensation effect, formation of large-sized fruit, that could mitigate the effect of the excessive fall of fruit.”

Farmers reported citrus-tree fruit losses of 60 percent to 80 percent, compared with a usual rate of 50 percent, according to the ministry.

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