Reasons for Less Argentine Lemon Production

Josh McGillCrop Forecast, International, lemons

Fresh lemon production in Argentina in 2022–23 is forecast to decline to 1.65 million metric tons (MMT), down from 2.1 MMT the prior year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (USDA FAS) reported recently.

lemon production
Photo by Lisa Fotios

The decline is due to the impact of rising costs, which have prompted smaller producers to limit the maintenance needed on lemon-bearing trees and even abandon or convert their orchards.

Prolonged unfavorable weather conditions have also played a role in the decline in lemon production. A severe drought in the main lemon-growing region of Argentina during the 2022 spring damaged many trees and reduced the size of the lemons that were produced.

Over the past decade, the lemon sector has been boosted by investments in new production and technology, with 70% to 75% of total production devoted to exports of processed lemon products. The products include essential oil, frozen pulp and dehydrated peel.

In recent years, lemon growers in northwestern Argentina have expanded their planted area. The removal and replanting of trees have increased the number of plants per hectare and improved production efficiency and yields. However, for 2022–23, lemon planted area has decreased by 13% to 45,000 hectares.

The profitability of lemon producers has been under strain in recent years due to the increase in production costs and the exceptional overproduction of lemons in the prior two seasons.

The rising cost of fertilizers, pesticides and labor wages have contributed to the increase in production costs, while the lower prices of fresh lemons have put further pressure on profitability. This has led some lemon producers to reduce their planted area, as they are unable to make a profit from their crops.

USDA FAS estimated that the amount of fresh lemons for processing in 2022–23 will decrease to 1.32 MMT, down from 1.64 MMT the prior year.

See the full USDA FAS report on Argentine citrus here.

Source: USDA FAS

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