The latest bout of heavy rain in Chile has areas that received 400 mm of rain causing an estimated $400 million in damages. While this is an initial estimate, according to producers and Fedefruta, Chile’s fruit representative organisation, there are still fields which cannot be reached, with damages expected to amount to much more.
Juan Pablo Orozco, Agronomist at producer and table grape exporter Frucentro in Chile, this second round of rain in two months have left them devastated. “Here in Chile we have had big problems with the rains lately, in some region’s we had more than 400 mm of rain in just two days. In some regions of Chile we had the same amount of rain for the whole winter, just in two days. This is the second bad weather event of the year and we have three regions with very big problems. Not only with the agriculture, but many people lost their homes. Some growers lost all their fields while others were left with their fields that are fully covered with mud or debris. This is going to take a lot of work to get it clean. In some cases they are losing all the crops where the rain and floods have heavily damaged the orchard. Now we have to worry about the frost we can get after these rains, which can damage plums and cherries that are starting to bloom.”
Some images from Orozco showing the flooding and damage to table grape orchards.
Orozco says the rain comes as a mixed blessing given many years of drought. “We are expecting some rains again for this week, but not as hard as the rain we had last week. It’s been a very rainy winter so far. It is good because we need the water after 15 years of droughts and hopefully we get some snow in our mountains. That is the most important water source of water we have for the summer.”
In a short video (in Spanish) released over the weekend Jorge Valenzuela Trebilcoc, president of Fedefruta, says the initial loss in orchards and infrastructure is only an estimate while a lot of the actual damage must still be assessed as the water subsides. “We the main associations have verified in the field losses of $400 million dollars, mainly in European hazelnut, blueberries and cherry trees. Mainly in intra-farm irrigation infrastructure and also in new plantations, although it depends on the area. There are some areas affected by floods where the water has not moved and we see that there could already be losses in the orchards.”