Chilean cherry deal delayed by up to 10 days, says industry rep
A relatively cold and wet spring in Chile has led harvests running at least a week behind a typical year, according to an industry representative.
“Spring has been cold compared to last year and we are around seven to 10 days delayed in relation to a normal year,” Chilean Cherry Committee president Christian Tagle told Fresh Fruit Portal.
However, the representative said the cool weather meant better fruit quality was expected than last year, when unusually high temperatures were seen in the spring period.
He expected characteristics including Brix levels, taste and color to all see improvements compared to the 2016-17 season.
Nearly 90% of exports are sent to Asia, with China the leading market by far.
Last year the industry had originally forecast exports of 120,000MT, but weather factors in October and November affected production. The final export figure, however, was still a 13% increase over the 2015-16 season.
In late August a seminar for cherry growers held in Curicó, Tagle had projected exports of around 160,000 metric tons (MT), which would represent a 67% boost over last season’s 94,869MT and be equivalent to 32 million boxes.
“So far the weather has not caused any damages, but if the spring continues with intermittent rains the industry will have to be very rigorous with the use of fungicides…to avoid fruit rot in the orchards and reduce the percentage of small fruit,” he was quoted as saying.
The publication also reported that Agroex general manager Victor Villagra was expecting total national production this season of around 30 million boxes.
However, she explained that as the industry had already been expecting a huge year-on-year increase, a drop in production would unlikely be much of an issue for growers.
Local media La Discusion quoted agronomist and cherry specialist Elena Yáñez as saying rainfall over the spring period may well lead to lower volumes than originally anticipated.
Tagle was not prepared to give a specific volume estimate for this campaign but predicted exports would rise year-on-year.