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Optimism about quality and quantity

Argentina: Table grape production to be three times higher than 2013

The production in the vineyards of San Juan, a month prior to harvest time, looks very promising. There seems to be a significant increase in volume and quality, which has changed the face of local producers who, last year, suffered their biggest historical loss due to the severe frosts. 

According to the Chamber of Foreign Trade, this year's harvest is expected to amount to 30,000 to 35,000 tons providing there are no weather anomalies. This is almost three times more than the 11,000 tons produced in the previous season.

The industry is beleaguered by the loss of competition and many producers have converted their crops or abandoned the cultivation of these varieties in recent years, so the sector is still far from the 45,000 tons produced in 2012 and light years away from the 90,000 tons produced in 2007.

The clusters have a good structure and a nice amount of fruit is expected. Additionally, the harvest will start about a week earlier than normal because of the warm spring with no cold weather or frosts," said Enrique Ahun from Patagonian Fruit. 

Juan Manuel Raigon, from the INTA, stated that, since there was no fruit last year, "the plants accumulated great reserves of substances, differentiated buds, and induced many flowering buds." However, he added, "since there was a lack of chill hours, the production will be good and normal. It won't be the super production everyone is expecting." 

Ahun said the harvest would start on December 8 in the early areas and between the 15 and the 18 on the rest of the farms. 

Antonio Gimenez, producer and head of the Chamber of Foreign Trade, said it was encouraging that the harvest was going to be normal because last year was very difficult. However, he warned, there's still uncertainty about this season's prices. 

Argentina's main competitor is South Africa, which has a good harvest this year, has devalued its currency so they can offer good prices in the market. In addition, Russia, a potential buyer, also devalued its currency and is seeking lower prices. 

"In commercial terms the prospects are tough. If domestic costs continue to increase, it won't matter if we have a good production, that won't clear the doubts about the commercial side," Gimenez said. 

Maximiliano Turcuman from San Juan Trade SA., added, "prices are stable, but we have to wait and see what happens with the internal costs." 

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