JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s unusually extreme summer heat has seriously damaged this year’s etrog crop, growers say.
Strong heat and winds caused many more of the fruit, one of the four species required for the Sukkot holiday starting Wednesday night, to fall off trees prematurely, a grower told Haaretz.
In addition, while in most years 10 percent of the harvest is designated of highest quality, this year only 1 percent received the designation, another grower told Haaretz.
"People got used to very beautiful fruits in recent years, the consumers got used to very high standards," grower Haggai Kirschenbaum of Moshav Yishrash, near Rehovot, told the newspaper. "But we can’t live up to those this year. I can’t recall a heat wave as severe. And it’s difficult to ask a lot of money for a fruit that isn’t pretty."
Israel’s 15 large-scale etrog growers and numerous small-scale ones produce about 1.5 million of the citron fruits each year, of which 300,000 are exported.