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“We are working hard to ensure that in the future our mother plants and propagation materials are virus-free”

In the last two weeks, Chilean cherries arrived on the Chinese market in large volumes. Although the industry is facing multiple challenges such as, a shortage of labor and packing materials, high shipping costs and a long duration for customs’ clearance, growers and traders are working hard to bring their best quality fruit into the Chinese market.

IFG is a professional cherry breeder with headquarters in the USA. At the moment, the company has over 50 cherry selections on test, including both traditional dark red types and new blush types. These varieties were selected because they are early, have very few ‘double fruits’, and they are large, firm, and full of flavor.

Lucas Rosello is IFG’s Cherry Commercial Regional Manager for the Americas. He shared his insight into the current cherry export season and introduced the company’s developments in cherry breeding.

“Some of our licensees have already exported IFG cherry varieties to China in the last couple of seasons. All of them are early varieties that are harvested before the Santina cherry. The sales of our licensees from the previous season were great. Market demand was strong and the prices solid.”

When talking about the current season, Rosello said, “The cherry season is starting well in terms of weather conditions in production areas, although a week delayed compared to 20/21 season. The heat is beginning to build up and volumes are growing quickly, but we face more challenges this season, for example labor shortages in production areas, limited packing capacity and logistical issues.”

Rosello then shared his expectation of the current cherry season. “We expect a 10% growth from the whole Chilean cherry industry, with around 77.5 million boxes in total. IFG is a relatively new cherry variety program still under much development, with most of the commercial plantings still growing. However, in the next 5-10 years there will be an important market share in the early season.”

China has introduced stricter customs procedures for imported fresh produce to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other plant viruses. When asked how the company proactively responds to this situation, Rosello said, “As breeders, IFG is working hard to ensure that our mother plants and propagation materials will be free of viruses. IFG is committed to offering a 100% virus-free plant in the near future. However, since these viruses can spread easily with pollen, it will be a complication for growers to keep the plants clean. This is becoming more important every year and is crucial for sending propagation material to China, or any other country where we want to grow cherries.”

IFG is developing its cherry sector very fast. A few weeks ago, the company held two field days at El Tambo nursery in Chile. “We had over 50 growers coming, some of them are currently IFG licensees, and others looking to be. At this event, we showed the visitors our Cheery cherry varieties and selections that are in the pipeline. By showing our plants and fruit, IFG can demonstrate how our genetics program is advantageous for growers,” Rosello explained.

Founded in 2001, IFG is the world’s leading premium fruit-breeding company, headquartered in the USA. The company is internationally recognized for its top quality, non-GMO fruit varieties in the table grape, cherry, and raisin industries. IFG patents and licenses its varieties to worldwide marketers and growers, with licensees in 15 countries and its fruit actively marketed in over 30 countries.

Olivia Riley

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