As YWN has previously reported, if you are one of the people who wish to buy a Calabria esrog, you are likely to learn they are not readily available and if they are, they are quite costly.
These esrogim, which are grown in Italy, have suffered from harsh weather conditions this year and the price has jumped four times the price last year. One of the merchants in Jerusalem updated his regular customers, informing them this year, the cost will be 1,200 shekels for an entry price esrog.
The Calabrian breeds are grown in the Calabria region in south-eastern Italy, and the tradition is that Bnei Yisrael used these esrogim, which were grown there in the orchards freely, without the cultivation and care of human hands, which led to the conclusion that this was not a crossbreed.
Chabadniks customarily purchase a Calabria esrog, which on a regular year can cost $100 and upward. This year however, the reality is a different one, and the cost is now $350-$400 for a bottom line esrog and its size and beauty are not comparable to past years.
It appears a cold front that hit Italy a few months ago and if this was not enough, it was followed later on with extreme heat and the esrog crop has been sorely compromised.
One veteran Jerusalem merchant explains to his clients that this year, prices are quite high and the quality of the esrogim is far less than they have settled for in past years. In addition, he urges people to come early as there is a significant shortage this year.
Many Satmar Chassidim also purchase Calabria esrogim and efforts to place a ceiling on the price have failed. Rabbonim and askanim visited Italy in the hope of halting the sharp price increase, but this too failed since there are few esrogim which are kosher, not to mention even a fewer number that one might consider mehadrin.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)