The broccoli and cauliflower crops in the Oriolan hamlet of Raiguero de Poniente woke up icy yesterday after an early morning in which the thermometers dropped to -0.2 degrees, reaching -0.9 in Lo Capitan, a rural enclave of Torremendo. They also dropped below zero degrees in Lo Cabello (-0.1), while in Lo Limorte (Formentera del Segura) they reached 0.1 degrees and in Jacarilleta (Jacarilla) 0.2. The province is experiencing the biggest episode of frost in a decade, due to a powerful anticyclone that set in last week and will last at least until next Sunday. With -12.9 degrees, Xixona and Villena marked the lowest temperatures.
However, the frosts are being weak in the orchard areas of the Vega Baja and somewhat more pronounced in hollows, where the cold accumulates, without causing significant damage to the crops. What’s more, the vegetable fields appreciate it and the plants pick up steam. José Vicente Andreu, president of the Young Farmers Agricultural Association (Asaja) of Alicante, explains that this lowers production and improves quality, so “prices are rising due to the cold.” The high temperatures that were recorded on Christmas days were having negative consequences for the plantations. With such abnormal weather for the time of year, “the plants had gone crazy,” he continues. This translated into stress and saturation that lowered the quality of the product and caused prices to drop by almost 50%.
Thus, Andreu maintains that an increase of 20% has already been detected in the artichoke. Antonio Ángel Hurtado, president of the Vega Baja Artichoke Association, agrees: “Production has suffered from the end of November until the first 20 days of December due to warm temperatures.” However, with the cold, frost and humidity, the product improves and prices recover, which means that profitability does not decline for the farmer. For this reason, Hurtado makes a “positive” assessment of these first weeks of the campaign, which began on November 22 with the first symbolic cut in Callosa de Segura. At the same time, continues Hurtado, “the stability of supply and demand is recovering”, above all because after the end customer opts for other products typical of the Christmas period, such as meat and seafood, consumption is once again the habitual. “The export is also being acceptable,” he says.
This year, 300 more hectares of its star product have been planted in the Vega Baja, adding a total of 2,000. A production of 26,000 tons is planned, which represents an increase of 20% compared to the previous harvest, thus recovering the figures prior to the DANA of 2019. Everything is going as expected, in the absence of weather giving any new hit the field. Precisely, yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the historic snowfall that occurred in the Vega Baja and that even came to set in coastal points of Torrevieja, Orihuela, Guardamar del Segura and Pilar de la Horadada, something that had not happened since 1926. At the moment , the sector is holding up well to this first icy wave of winter, which will last until the weekend according to the weather forecast.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.