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Kiwis, the most affected crop

Chile assesses extent of the impact of recent frosts

According to information supplied by the Association of Exporters of Fruits from Chile AG (ASOEX), despite recent rain and frost in certain areas of the country, the Chilean fruit export season goes according to plan.

In this regard, the president of Asoex, Ronald Bown, said: "For now we expect a normal fruit export season which, as usual, is subject to future weather conditions, among other aspects related to the production chain and the shipment of domestic fruit."

The exporting company pointed out that temperatures during the spring, which have an impact on the expected fruit production, have been normal this year, about the same as last season in the Valley of Copiapó, slightly lower from Vallenar to the Metropolitan Region and very similar to last year in the Region del Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins.

Meanwhile, from the Maule to the Araucanía temperatures are slightly lower, while in the regions of Los Ríos and Los Lagos they are virtually identical. 

These data point to normality, without any negative alterations to date in the expected fruit production this season. 

Nevertheless, Asoex, said that the spring rains taking place from the Metropolitan regions to the South, as well as two frosts of relative importance in the same regions, have caused some damage in specific municipalities and have affected some fruit crops that are in the stages of budding or settling, such as kiwis, cherries, stone fruit, pome fruits and berries.

As for damage estimates, the trade association said that the technical teams of the exporting companies have been conducting assessments and that the damage has been limited to certain municipalities of the Andean foothills.

The most affected crop would be kiwis, mostly those in orchards that have no frost protection. In the most extreme cases, between 50% to 80% of the buds between 10 and 40 centimetres have been affected. An assessment of the fruition may be carried out in late November. 

Meanwhile, some plum varieties in the regions of O'Higgins and Maule have a lower fruit load than in previous years as a result of rainfall and low temperatures during flowering (September). In late October, a quantitative assessment may be carried out for a more accurate estimation. Very preliminary figures point to a 20% drop in volume.

Cherry trees in areas where frosts lasted for over an hour, with temperatures below -0.5 °C, have small fruit drop and no more than 2% to 3% of the expected harvest should be affected. 

For pome fruits, the situation is similar to that of cherries and the production situation will be evaluated after the thinning. 

For its part, the Blueberry Committee has pointed out that the situation in the sector "has not affected all producers, and although some may be severely affected, overall the situation is under control; the drop in the production and export of blueberries will consequently not be significant."

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