Citrus focus: Argentina’s Lemon Industry

The area, which is the smallest and one of the poorest in Argentina, is blessed with abundant natural rainfall in the summer and a basically dry climate in the winter that enables a bountiful and continual harvest.

Citrus fruits first arrived in Tucumán with the conquistadors in the 1600s. The industry didn’t really get its start, however, until the Italian and Spanish immigration (from 1910-1930s), and the introduction of their custom of using lemons as a condiment. At this time, the citrus industry took hold in the areas of Tafi Viejo and Yerba Buena, west of the city of Tucumán. The farms were very small: The average farm was 5-10 hectares, and large farms were only 30 hectares.

At the end of the 1940s, a type of tristeza virus attacked all citrus trees that were grafted on rootstocks of bitter orange, resulting in the death of the trees. Due to this, the national and local governments prohibited the growing of sweet oranges, grapefruit and mandarins that were grafted on sweet oranges.

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