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Chile: High temperatures cause a concentrated fruit harvest
The season's high temperatures advanced the production, generating quality and marketing issues. So far, nobody knows if this trend will become permanent, but people are proposing alternatives to prevent its impact.
The temperatures have stressed the fruit plantations, as they are now going through their cycle much faster than they normally do. According to Carolina Cruz, the president of Uvanova, the harvests began more than ten days earlier than normal. This trend has affected all species and impacted exports.
"We saw this happen with cherries; we had to harvest all the different varieties at the same time, the harvest was very concentrated and we had to employ a battalion of people before the peak season and during the peak season. The same thing happened to the pear sector, as well as to the apple and kiwi sectors. This requires that we react much faster," said Antonio Walker, a producer of fruits from the VII Region. The former president of Fedefruta said that "there are years when the harvest starts before time, and years when it starts late, but I had never seen it so ahead of schedule and so concentrated."
Since this has an impact on the fruit's quality and marketing, the issue concerns producers.
Luis Schmidt, the current chairman of Fedefruta, said this advance in the fruit harvest had forced them to modify export programs and logistics.
It happened with cherries. Since the cherry harvest started 10 to 15 days earlier than expected, they arrived in China before the New Year, when there was no demand, which led to a rapid drop in prices. As a result, "exporters had to cancel a great number of contracted air charters. Prices were too low to send the product by air," said Schmidt.
The same thing happened to the grape from Copiapo. "The harvest arrived at a time when there still was fruit from Coachella Valley, California, and other states in the United States, which means that the fruit from the III Region will not obtain the values it normally achieves," adds Schmidt.
The industry did not foresee the impact that the high temperatures would have.
"There is no evidence that this will become a permanent trend ... However, we are concerned because nobody foresaw the real dimension this issue would have, so we failed to alert the markets and distribution chain to make the necessary adjustments," said Ronald Bown, president of Asoex.
There were also other consequences, such as a lack of workers. "This happened throughout the season. Everything took place before it should; the whole season was ahead of schedule. There was a moment when we needed workers because they were working with other species, but we filled those positions very quickly," said Carolina Cruz, referring to the grape sector.
Source: El Mercurio
Publication date: 3/15/2017
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