ANDALUCIA’S wettest winter coupled with EU regulations have been blamed for this year’s poor strawberry harvest.

Some 220,500 tonnes were collected in Huelva compared to 2009’s haul of 224,000 tonnes.

Experts estimate that 10m kilos of strawberries – almost 30m euros worth – were destroyed during the torrential winter downpours.

The EU was blamed for reducing the rights of seasonal strawberry-pickers and also encouraging the use of pesticides.

“The heavy rainfall ruined entire plantations and workers spent their time collecting kilos and kilos of rotten strawberries,” explained Alberto Garrocha, association president for the producers and exporters of Huelva’s strawberries (Freshuelva).

The winter’s abnormal rainfall caused a wide disparity in the different areas’ harvests.

For example, the zones of Cartaya and Lepe as well as Bonares and Rociana recorded falls of around 40 grams per plant.

However, plants in Palos de la Frontera, Moguer and Lucena del Puerto have seen the fruits of their harvests rise by the same figure.

To compensate for the overall lower quantity, strawberry prices have risen by five per cent.

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