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The drought and the rising cork price mark an atypical cam season

It ends in Catalonia a cork cam campaign full of contrasts following the effects of the drought and the increase in the price of cork in a 30%. On the one hand, demand and the market price of the raw material are on the rise, which has increased interest in removing corks. On the other hand, the weather conditions have made it difficult and shortened a season that started late due to the lack of rain that delayed the change of leaves and the flowering of the cork oaks, and ended earlier than expected due to drought and high temperatures

In the last two years, the rains have been clearly deficient in Catalonia, and this year's drought has contributed to the weakening of the cork trees and to the fact that many cork oak specimens are without leaves or with very small new leaves and the tops are very clarified

Quantities and qualities

Of the cork extracted this year, between 55 and 65% has been waste, between 2 and 3% burnt cork, between 5 and 10% pilgrim cork and the remaining 25% has been pluggable cork or thin cork for making discs. This cam has done increase the cork price in a 30% depending on the qualities.

This year's cork production is estimated at around 1,800 tons, a figure lower than the 4,500 tons that were extracted in 2018. It is a figure far removed from the potential production calculated at around eleven thousand tons per year, a fact that shows a mismatch between the availability of cork and the demand for this material since it is considered that 60% of the Catalan corks are about to be exploited.

If we take into account the socio-environmental benefits represented by the sustainable management of cork, the need for public-private intervention to correct this structural mismatch between supply and demand that has been occurring for years becomes clear.

Peelers needed

Despite the fact that no farm has been left unpeeled due to lack of manpower, there is a structural need to incorporate new cork midwives. A reality that becomes more evident if you take into account the need to encourage the regeneration and improvement of the cork oaks, since many forest masses do not present any type of management and in many others it is necessary to promote the regeneration and improvement of the too much to sustain cork production. In this sense, the demonstration project has been promoted SURROGATE to professionalize the profession of cork peeler, improve the training and education of current workers and ensure that there is generational relief.

They carry it out Forestry Science and Technology Center of Catalonia (CTFC) with the participation of theAgricultural and Forestry School of Santa Coloma de Farners, the Forestry Consortium of Catalonia (CFC) and of the Catalan Institute of Cork Foundation (ICSuro) and has the support of the Department of Climate Action of the Generalitat de Catalunya and the European Funds for Agricultural Development (FEADER).