Chillán, Ñuble

Chile: Good prospects for cherries

The recent rains and winds affected cherry producers in the province, as this fruit is in full bloom. Dionisio Bello, a small cherry producer from La Gloria de Quillón, for example, estimated there would be a drop in production of about 30% in that area due to the rain. 
Larger scale producers, such as the Fundo San Antonio of the Millahue Society, which is located in Las Toscas and that has 24 acres of cherry trees, are more concerned about the possible frosts in the next days than the rains because they have applied preventive measures for the latter and antifungal products after them.
Juan Arellano, the manager of orchards, said they were using artificial covers to minimize damages in case of frost. The specialist believes it will be a productive year and that the production will exceed the 12 tons per hectare, which is the breakeven point for the orchards he is managing. 
Marcelo San Martín, who has 10 acres of cherry trees in San Carlos, also believes that the professional producers can deal with the rains, but also fears the frosts: "Last year we lost 40% of our production to the frosts. Luckily, those losses were offset by high prices, as we earned about $4 and $3.5 with other varieties. In any case, it seems that the next agricultural year will be good because there has been a good amount of chill hours this season, which is one of the requirements this fruit has."
San Martin said the cherry market in this area works well because there is a varied demand and the companies compete for the product. "Although we work with contracts, the different companies make offers, which shows that the market is competitive," stated San Martin. 
Producers are also excited and hopeful because of the dollar’s value, said Rodrigo Garcia, representative of the Ministry of Agriculture. He then added that there would be good results if the price of the fruit was maintained and that, if prices dropped, the price of the dollar would serve as a cushion. 
Garcia is also a cherry producer so he knows this business. The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture in the Bio Bio said they would have a more detailed assessment of how the rains affected small producers in the coming weeks. 
Garcia, however, is optimistic, as it seems there were no mayor damages and the cherry is having a good performance this crop year. In addition, the international market’s demand for this product is growing. 
Andres Castillo, regional director of the Indap, has also noted the evolution of this crop in smallholder agriculture, and also has an optimistic view for the cherry this year. He added that there were good market prospects in terms of demand and prices. 


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