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After snow high risk of frost damage on the way

Chilean citrus harvest impacted by intense rain and flooding

Chile’s fruit industry was yet again hit by very high rainfall of between 50 mm to 150 mm, that has caused a fresh round of flooding and a delay in mandarin and lemon harvesting. Snow high in the Andes mountains point to a frost that’s on the way, posing a coming risk of frost damage to fruit trees and vegetable farms.

Picture: Federfruta

About 30,000 people have evacuated their homes in six regions. Chile’s Government through President Gabriel Boric has declared a state of emergency in the central-southern parts of the country. The infrastructure is affected by floods and mud slides, including the capital of Santiago. The transport of fresh produce has been impacted due to inaccessible roads. Many producers are bracing themselves and will assess the damage following this second major flooding incident in two months.

According to Jorge Dutrey, commercial manager of Chile’s Zimex Smart Agro who assist farmers across the country with smart agro solutions, including frost damage prevention, the flooding follows two days of intense rain earlier this week. “We had 48 hrs of pouring rain of between 100-150 mm. These are difficult days for plums and almonds which are in bloom. There is now a delay on the harvest of mandarins and lemons.”

Fedefruta, Chile’s fruit representative organisation, said in a statement they are waiting for more information from producers because it is too early to determine the overall scale of the latest damage caused so soon after the “most damaging bad weather front that modern fruit growing and the rural world have seen in the last 30 years.”

Fedefruta video showing flooding in Chilean fields.

Although the snow has fallen in the high parts of the Andes, this brings a heightened risk of frost damage to the fruit farms in the lower central valleys in the coming days warns Dutrey.

“There was a lot of snow fall with the snow line up to 2,000 m in the Andes, so luckily nothing on the Central Valley, thus we will probably have frost coming for the next few days until the weekend. The most affected fruit species will be avocados, citrus, plum and almond trees and seasonal vegetables. The magnitude of the damage will not be known until one to two weeks from now, however, let's remember that ending May of last year similar frosts damaged an average of 30% of the persistent fruit industry. Deciduous fruit trees are in winter recess until August but should not be trusted because global climate change causes these phenomena of frost in new geographical locations and inopportune dates after fruit set. At Zimex Smart Agro, we have available the most versatile frost protection fans in the market to protect the fields,” explains Dutrey.

For more information:
Jorge Dutrey Ossa
Zimex Smart Agro
Tel: +569 - 3455 8331
Email: [email protected]