Argentina: Mendoza loses 6 million kilos of garlic due to rains

Mendoza producers and exporters say they have lost more than 600,000 boxes of garlic for export due to the rains. El Niño, they said, brought about a greater amount of rainfall in the area, which damaged the quality of some 6 million kilos of garlic.

"Since one hectare of garlic yields in average about 800 boxes of 10 kilos and this year we implemented some 8,370 hectares, estimates are we have lost 600,000 boxes for export; an amount that could increase if the rainfall continues because most of the garlic in Mendoza is dried outdoors," said Guillermo San Martin, manager of the Association of Producers, Packers and Exporters of Garlic, Onions and Associated Products from Mendoza (Asocamen), to Los Andes newspaper.

According to the Institute of Rural Development (IDR), the area planted with garlic this year decreased by 14% when compared to the 2014 agricultural season, going from 9,700 hectares in 2014 to 8,371 hectares in 2015, i.e. about 1,350 hectares.

"Even though Argentina is the second largest exporter of garlic in the world and the Mendoza-San Juan region contributes more than 90% of this product, the postharvest handling of garlic in Cuyo is rudimentary, as it relies on agro ecological conditions being normal so that the drying of garlic isn’t compromised. Producers don’t have rustic but safe drying structures and are not prepared for cold and wet spring like the one we had this year," said the former coordinator of the Project Garlic and professional associate of the INTA La Consulta, José Luis Burba.

Guillermo San Martin considers the situation to be serious. "The truth is we do not know how things will end up because we’ll continue harvesting until mid-December, as this year’s start of the season was delayed by about 15 days," he said.

According to Jose Luis Burba, producers must be very attentive to garlic crops at this time of year because the "high relative humidity and cool weather, typical in the Cuyo region in a year with El Niño, promote the attack of rust in adult plants. This disease, which is caused by a fungus, makes the plants lose its leaves in a very short time and, consequently, there is a loss of productivity. This disease is most severe in white and purple garlic (the early harvest in November), and the red garlic, which is the late harvest in December," he said.

Burba recommended producers to avoid leaving the garlic outdoors if there are forecasts of rain. "They must air them as fast as possible and immediately take them in to dry so that the soil attached to the bulbs dries as quickly as possible," he added.

"Leaving the garlic in the field to dry under the sun has other consequences, such as other types of abnormalities and defects that affect the garlic that producers have worked on for months and that they want to sell," he warned.


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