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Crop at Asian Citrus' remaining orange plantation hit by 'persistent rain'

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The China-based fruit grower Asian Citrus revealed that production in its main remaining plantation would fall further this year, after "persistent rainfall" over the start of the year.

Asian Citrus will supply just 16,370 tonnes of summer oranges from its 1.2m-tree Hepu plantation, in Guangxi, Southern China.

This is down 14.4% from a 2015 summer crop of 19,132 tonnes, and extends the previous year's massive drop, down from a summer output of 49,540 tonnes in 2014, following typhoon damage.

The production yield of the summer orange crop from Hepu Plantation has been affected by variable weather and persistent rainfall in the latter 2015 and early 2016.

Continued 'adverse influences'

Last month the company reported a loss of 440.7m yuan in the last six months of 2015, up from a loss of 132.9m yuan over the same period a year before, citing increased spending on pesticides.

Total orange production was seen down by 86% year on year, thanks to poor weather at the Hepu plantation, as well as disease outbreaks in its other operational plantation.

"The board of directors of the Company believes that the decrease in production volume of the summer crop and the other key factors affecting the financial performance of the… will continue to adversely influence the performance of the group's agricultural produce operations," Asian Citrus said on Wednesday.

Uptick in prices

Although production is seen falling, pricing is expected to improve from last year.

Asian Citrus said "based on the current information, it is anticipated that the average selling price of the summer orange crop will show an increase of approximately 3.9% compared to the prior year".

This represents a slight recovery, but does little to make up for the 33.5% drop in pricing last year, caused by the spread of citrus canker which causes

Plantation closure

In December last year, Asian Citrus announced that it would close its largest orange plantatin, in Xinfeng, Juanxi province, due to an outbreak of Huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease.

An investigation at the 37 square kilometre, 1.3m tree plantation found that 70-80% of trees had been affected by Huanglongbing, an incurable disease that causes trees to produce inedible fruit.

Asian Citrus has another plantation under development, in Hunan province, with 1.8m orange and grapefruit trees.

Asian Citrus shares in Hong Kong closed the last session down 1.9%, at 0.510 Hong Kong dollar cents, down 42.7% since the start of the year.


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