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Argentina: Pear production down 40 million kilos due to rain
It's another bad year for Mendoza's pear. According to benchmarks in the sector, the sector has lost more than 40 million kilos of fruit for fresh consumption by the start of the harvest season. Thus, this fruit, for which there still is no reference price, will have a poor performance in 2016.
The IDR predicted this crop's volume would be around 61.8 million kilos (61,847 tons) produced in over 4,341 hectares. However, the Association of Producers and Exporters of fresh fruits (Aspeff) stated that producers had lost 40 million kilos of fruit because of the low temperatures, rain, and hailstorms there were in spring in the major producing regions.
"There is a physical loss and an economic loss due to the low quality achieved because of the hail and / or diseases. In total we estimate producers have lost some 40 million kilos of pears, "said Juan Riveira, president of the Association of Producers and Exporters of fresh fruits (Aspeff).
The most important pear producing areas are the Uco Valley with 52% of the total produced in the province and the Southern area with 38%. The most cultivated varieties are the Williams, Packams Triumph, and Beurre Giffard varieties, as they account for 95% of the surface.
Raul Aruani, technician and Aspeff member said: "It's a very difficult time with immediate damages, such as the damage caused by hail, and gradual and cumulative damage caused by the year's weather conditions. This winter has had few cold hours, so flowering was delayed. Not all flowers set and the ones that didn't have a normal development because of the low temperatures in spring. To top things off, it hailed," he said.
In addition, he continued, the humidity caused by the rain brought the scabies disease, which generates black spots and deforms the fruit.
According to Aruani, even though there's been a great loss in volume, the biggest problem faced by producers is the lack of quality that the remaining product has.
Asked about the issue, the Undersecretary of Agriculture, Alfredo Aciar, said: "We are aware there's a smaller crop and Aspeff is doing estimates. We are checking this information with the IDR; however these are mainly problems related to the year's poor weather conditions."
It's worth noting that Argentina exports 59% of its production, allocates 27% of it for the industry, and 14% of it for the domestic market.
According to Alberto Carletti, from the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Tunuyán, "there's a very important drop in the production of pears this year because of the hailstorms and the moisture caused by El Niño in the area."
Lower production, better prices
In terms of supply and demand, the producers that achieve a better fruit quality are expected to obtain better prices than in the previous season.
Juan Riveira, who works at Aspeff, said: "Whoever has quality fruit will obtain a higher price than last year. The harvest has just begun and there is no formed market."
According to information from the Aspeff, last year the kilo of pear destined for fresh consumption was paid between $2 and $2.50; something they hope will improve this year.
Codling moth, another problem
Pome fruit has been affected since last year. In March 2015 Brazil stopped shipments of Argentine pears and apples because they detected the codling moth in a load of these fruits. Trade was only re-established in July, which forced producers to discard some 8 million kilos of apples and pears.
"The increase in rainfalls has led us to have an undesired incidence of codling moth. The hectares grown in Mendoza are for the fresh fruit market and the demand for sliced fruit and halved fruit is limited," said Aruani.
In this sense, according to data from the Argentine Chamber of Integrated Fruit farmers, domestic consumption amounts to 2.5 kilos of fresh pear per capita per year; a very low number when compared to China and the European Union. There are very few national campaigns to promote the consumption of this fruit in the country.
After the interruption of shipments to Brazil, Senasa and its counterpart in Brazil created new measures so that Argentina could export pome fruits to that country. Local farmers say that the requirements of the new Risk Mitigation System (SMR) are difficult to enforce.
In this sense, Aciar, recalled: "The SMR for this season is already signed and we hope to work some points of it for next season. We have less than 1,000 hectares under this system, and thanks to this situation, we might only export a small few."
Publication date: 1/14/2016
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