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Chile protects cherries from spring rains

The rain that fell a few days ago coincided with the first crops of the earliest cherry varieties. As a result, producers have taken action to dry the fruit and reduce damages by using windmills and even helicopters.

Fortunately, cherry producers were prepared for the rain, as the fruit is susceptible to water damage.

"We knew that this spring would be rainy, so we were better prepared for it," said Cristian Allendes, the director of Fedefruta and a fruit producer in the metropolitan area. Allendes said that, after the rains of the week, "we started using sprays and turned on the windmills for frost control in order to dry the trees as quickly as possible, then we applied fungicides to the cherries that were in harvest; because it’s not necessary to apply it to the varieties that were still appearing and taking color."

Moreover, since the cherry harvest in general is delayed by at least eight days because of weather factors this season, only 3% of the crops, the earlier varieties, such as Royal Dawn, GlenRed, and Brooks, were exposed to damage as they were just beginning this phase.

The director of Fedefruta, Claudio Vergara Tagle, agrees with this diagnosis: "Fortunately, there still are a few days missing before the peak of the harvesting season, when the rains could cause bigger damage," he said.

Vergara also took action to avoid the cherries from cracking. "Normally, 5% of the early fruit is under sheds. We control the remaining 95% that is not covered by using blowing machines for frost control, nebulizer machines, and helicopters."

"However, we remain vigilant because we know the weather is unstable and there will be new rainfalls that could further reduce this season's estimated 20 million boxes," said the director of Fedefruta.

Good calibers
Regarding this cherry season, the director of Fedefruta and president of Fruseptima, Antonio Walker, said: "We expect production will be similar to last season. There is less fruit per hectare but new orchards and early varieties will enter into production, so the volume should be similar to last season."

"Having lower amount of fruit per tree puts us in a position where we can ensure high quality cherries with a large caliber, which we know will result in great demand, and not only from China which buys more than 75% of the Chilean supply," concluded Walker.


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