The president of the Citrus Committee said that in Chile, citrus orchards are located in protected areas and they are subject to constant monitoring, making it possible to act in case of any issues.
The history of citrus in Chile goes back to the time of the conquest, when the Spaniards brought these plants to their colonies. Currently, citrus fruits are grown commercially from the region of Coquimbo to O'Higgins, always in protected areas where frosts are uncommon.
Chile produces and exports clementines, mandarins, oranges, lemons and grapefruits. In the 2018 season, according to figures from the Citrus Committee, Chile shipped close to 360,000 tons of citrus fruits. 28% of those exports corresponded to Navel oranges, around 24.5% to lemons, 17.2% to clementines, 30% to mandarins and 0.3% to grapefruits. The main destination is the United States, accounting for 88% of the total, followed by Europe with 4% and the Far East with 7%.
The growth of Chilean citrus fruits in the international market has been very significant in recent years; however, there has been misinterpreted information on the part of some international media, which claim that Chilean citrus fruits are exposed to frost. In view of this, Juan Enrique Ortúzar, president of the Citrus Committee, said that "as a committee, we are constantly monitoring the weather conditions and forecasts, as they are an important factor to consider in the citrus production process. We were struck by a rumor spread outside of Chile about frosts which were going to hit the production areas, which was a lie and has not happened. It is difficult to deal with alarming news that are actually sustained on nothing. In our forecasts, we don't see any significant frosts hitting the production areas, so we remain calm."
Citrus orchards in Chile are located in more protected areas. "In the areas suitable for the production of citrus fruits, the chance of frosts is much smaller; therefore, although there are frosts in certain fruit producing areas, they must be very strong to take a toll on the citrus producing areas," said Ortuzar.
On the measures enforced by citrus producers and exporters in Chile against frosts, the president of the Citrus Committee said that "we, as a Committee, have procedures to monitor frosts. Thermographs are set up in the orchards during the harvest period, and if temperatures below -1ºC or -2ºC are detected, the anti-frost protocols are enforced. These have been prepared for the producers taking into account that such temperatures have a different impact depending on the species, phenological stage of the plant, temperature and duration of the event. A number of measures are adopted in the framework of the protocol. The temperatures are monitored very closely, and a plan of action is drawn up based on the readings obtained."
Lastly, Juan Enrique Ortuzar said that, "fortunately, we have not suffered any frosts this season, so we are doing very well. And obviously, we are concerned about news causing alarm, but I believe that the industry and the agents that participate in this market will quickly learn that we should not believe every rumor spread for whatever reason with no technical or real basis. We have the same clear answer for all the companies that have asked us: we do not see any risks at the moment."
Source: Citrus Committee