Drought to Cut Argentine Lemon Production

Josh McGillCrop Forecast, International, lemons

Due to a drought, lemon production in Argentina is forecast to decline to 1.77 million metric tons (MMT) in 2022–23, down 130,000 metric tons (MT) from the prior year. The drought is expected to continue through the Southern Hemisphere summer of 2023 due in part to the third La Niña weather pattern in a row. The forecast was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS). 

lemon production
Photo by Lukas

Lemon production takes place principally in Tucuman, Salta and Jujuy, with some minor production in northeast Argentina. Over the past few years, lemon growers in northwest Argentina have expanded planted area. Tree removal and replanting have been increasing the plant-per-hectare ratio and improving production efficiency and yields. For 2022–23, lemon planted area is forecast at 52,000 hectares, up 1,000 hectares from the prior year.

Fresh lemons for processing are projected to decrease to 1.4 MMT, compared to 1.49 MMT in 2021–22, as a result of the production decrease.

Argentina’s fresh lemon exports are forecast at 235,000 metric tons (MT) in 2022–23, down 25,000 MT from the previous season. Argentine lemon exports continue to face strong competition from Turkey and South Africa, which offer the European Union (EU) market higher-quality fresh fruit. During January–September 2022, the EU remained the largest export destination for Argentine fresh lemons with a 45% share, followed by the United States with a 21% share and Russia with an 18% share.

The fresh lemon export business continues to be profitable, although margins are lower compared to past seasons. The sector’s challenges are primarily due to a steep increase in production costs, high inflation rates and a weakened economy.

Lemon imports are expected to remain negligible in 2022–23 as Argentina is a net citrus producing and exporting country. During January–September 2021–22, Argentina imported
1.4 MT of fresh lemons, primarily from Brazil.

See the full USDA FAS citrus report for Argentina here.

Source: USDA FAS

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