European Picota cherry growers in Spain’s Jerte Valley west of Madrid are predicting a bountiful harvest in mid-June after a three-week blossom in April that saw pristine weather conditions.
More than a million cherry trees are grown on the slopes of the mountain, and this year’s volumes headed to the UK are expected to be higher than last year. The season runs from late June until August.
“This year we have experienced a cold winter – the low temperatures make the trees more resilient, and so in the spring they are now primed to bear good quality fruit,” Miguel Ángel Durán, Export Manager at Agrupacion de Cooperativas Valle Del Jerte, said. “The spring has been very favourable with mild temperatures, which has helped the bees to play their part, and the pollination process has been excellent. Thanks to all these climatic conditions, we are expecting a very good European Picota cherry campaign, both in terms of volumes and quality.”
Durán says UK supermarkets are hoping to resolve potential setbacks posed by Brexit to guarantee the Picota supply.
“Because of this, we have decided to assign a large part of this year’s crop to the UK market,” he says. “While it is true that the logistical challenge will be greater this year, we will be able to work around it without any problems to provide the Picotas and cherries when the time arrives.”
Farmers who grow the exclusive European variety follow rigorous quality control procedures that grant the Picota its Denomination of Origin (DO) status. This seal certifies its exceptional sweetness, traceability, and European quality. The sustainable cherries are handpicked from the trees, put in chestnut baskets, packaged and then shipped.
The Jerte Valley is located 200km west of Spain’s capital, in Northern Extremadura.
The estimated Picota volumes for 2021 are 21 million kilos, of which 50-60% will be exported worldwide, and the rest sold in the domestic market.
“We hope to hit 5 million kg, which will mean selling 25% more cherries than in 2020,” Durán said: “UK consumers want to see more Picota cherries on the shelves this year because the supermarkets position them as the ideal natural snack during the summer.”