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Havana. November 11, 2014

High hopes for citrus:
yields in new groves

Ventura de Jesús García Gutiérrez

TORRIENTE, Jagüey Grande.— The planting of 550 hectares of citrus fruit this year reinforces the aims of Matanzas growers to gradually restore the once abundant groves of this vast area, most of which are 30 to 40 years old, with all having suffered the effects of the disease known as Huanglongbing (HLB).

Armando Perdomo García, director of the Victoria de Giron Citrus Company, said that, with this volume, the recovery program has planted a total of 5,500 hectares, with more disease resistance varieties, narrower planting frames and positioning of a proven nature. 

He explained that these new areas are monitored continuously and undergo rigorous phytosanitary controls each week to counter the onslaught of the citrus destroying disease. This is precise work that takes into account every detail, he added, explaining that trees are being planted in plots which are distanced from the old groves.

At the same time, the company is making the most of the productive potential of the diseased groves (about 8,000 hectares), with these tree branches used to make charcoal destined mainly for export.

So far this year growers have produced over 30,000 tons of citrus fruit and are due, thanks to the grapefruit (already underway) and orange harvests, to exceed 70,000 tons, a volume far from the best achieved by the company in the past, but a sign that citrus production in the region is recovering.

According to experts, the good news is that the first crops of the replanting program averaged a yield of about 20 tons per hectare. Also positive is the availability of fertilizer to ensure the application of the full standard set out for new areas, as well as in old groves with a yield of five or more tons per hectare.

As a result of diversification, the company also produces tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and other species in 47 protective greenhouses and is developing a wide ranging agricultural base.

According to García Perdomo, if the necessary phytosanitary control is maintained, along with required nutrition and irrigation, there is a real possibility that citrus trees can live with the disease and even achieve notable yields.


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