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Chile: Is the market to be flooded with cherries?

After the sector was hit in 2013 by the severest frost in the last 50 years, Chilean cherries are recovering and reaching higher production levels than in the most optimistic predictions.

According to the Cherry Committee of the Fruit Exporters Association of Chile AG, ASOEX, it is estimated that the production in the 2014-2015 season will reach around 100,000 tonnes.

"The campaign is expected to be good, although it unfortunately will span over too short a period, as due to the effect of frosts in recent years producers have not applied Dormex, which is intended to lengthen the fruit harvest period," explains Cristian Silva, of Cherry Traders.

Dormex is a growth regulator used on grapes, kiwis, pears and cherry trees, which stops dormancy and stimulates the sprouting of buds and/ or the flowering. Growers typically apply this product to one half of the plantation to ensure different harvest times, causing the treated cherry trees to flower earlier, around the second week of September, which is the riskiest period for frost in Chile.

"Nobody can estimate the effects of this during the harvest peak between 6 and 21 December," said Silva.

Such concentration of the production may lead to logistical problems, labourer shortages and overloaded packing houses.

"People talk of 100,000 tonnes, but there is actually enough fruit to reach 150,000. How much of it will we be able to harvest and export in a timely manner? That is the question," he explains.

What will happen to prices in the case of a cherry "flood" during a very small window of time? Will demand accompany this growth? These are just some of the questions posed in preparation for this historic cherry campaign.

For more information:
Cristian Silva
[email protected]

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