Orange blossom: a fragile agricultural product, sensivite to climate change
For the second year running, the countries of the Maghreb are experiencing a worrying drought, following several years of below-average rainfall. The winter rainfall normally provides our water resources for the whole year, but this year – once again – we have recorded three times less rain than usual on our farm in Khemisset (Morocco). This very dry winter was then followed by a rather cold spring. These conditions are generally conducive to good bitter-orange flowering: when vegetation returns, there is a true explosion of flowers in the trees! On another hand, trees in this very dry environment produce smaller flowers. These flowers are lighter and agricultural yields per hectare are therefore lower.
As a result, flower production is down 25% this year compared to our fields’ potential. Less production per hectare and higher harvest costs for lighter flowers, on top of winter irrigation costs are consequences that impact the price of the flower, in both Morocco and Tunisia.
The silver lining comes from their processing: smaller, drier flowers are also richer in essential oil and distillation yields are improved, making it possible to somewhat moderate the increase in harvest and energy costs.
In terms of quality, the profile of neroli essential oil also suffers the effects of climate change, and in recent years, we have observed:
- A decrease in linalool levels and an increase in limonene levels,
- Extended beta-pinene specifications,
- A trend of increasing optical rotation.
This led us to modify our specifications.
Biolandes: an integrated model
- In Egypt and Tunisia, flower producers are small farmers mobilising family labour, who then sell to collectors who supply processing plants, while in Morocco, producers are plantations integrated within processing factories, with salaried pickers.
- On our farm in Khemisset, where we grow 40 hectares of bitter orange, we employ up to 1,200 people at the peak of the harvest. Picking begins at dawn. Once collected and sorted, the flowers are immediately taken to the factory where they are distilled without delay, thereby preserving the flower’s most volatile molecules. We have been feeling the effects of climate change for several years now, and we will continue to experience more periods of drought and “abnormal” temperatures. We are preparing for it and have adapted our plantations accordingly:
- For several years now, the Khemisset farm has greatly reduced its water consumption through the widespread use of drip irrigation
- The farm’s crops are chosen for their low water consumption, avoiding irrigation during the summer period (orange tree harvested in March, rose centifolia harvested in April and the mimosa which does not require irrigation)
- As for our bitter-orange trees, we rely on two frost-protection towers that allow us to protect the plots most sensitive to spring frost.
Already certified organic, we are now committed to obtaining UEBT certification. After an initial audit in 2021, an action plan has been implemented which should allow us to achieve certification for the next harvest.
Biolandes: a complete offer
We offer the whole range of orange-tree products: neroli, hydrosols, orangeflower absolute and water concentrate. Our Moroccan productions can be complemented by purchases in Tunisia and Egypt, from suppliers with whom we have worked for several years.
Find our natural extracts online:
- Neroli essential oils
- Hydrosols: origin Tunisia, origin Morocco
- Absolutes: various origin, casher origin Morocco
Contact our salesteam for more information