Rains on Friday and Saturday in Chile’s cherry growing regions have caused serious damage to the production intended for export. Over the next few days, the losses will be more accurately estimated, as well as the possible impact on other fruits, which is expected to be very minor.

According to preliminary data, FEDEFRUTA expect 15% fewer cherries this season.

In the case of cherries, about 20% of the expected volume this season has been already been shipped; a volume that has been estimated at about 20 million 5 kilo boxes.

The President of the Association of Chilean Fruit Exporters AG (ASOEX), Ronald Bown said: “Preliminary data supplied by the Cherry Committee reveals that in those areas where rainfall has exceeded 20 mm, orchards will suffer losses of between 30% and 50%. In municipalities with rainfall between 10-20 mm, the extent of the damage will be lower.”

The greatest loss is observed in the region of Maule, where it is estimated that, at least, 25% of production can not be exported

Orchards in the Santiago area were the least affected as the harvest was coming to an end and only between 4 and 11 millimetres of rain fell.

However the situation becomes more serious as we move towards the south, for there the cherry harvest was in full swing.

In the O'Higgins Region, where 12 to 30 millimetres of rain fell in the fruit growing areas, it is expected that 20% of cherries for export were damaged. In the region of Maule, meanwhile, the producer / exporter and also director of the Federation, Antonio Walker Prieto says a loss of 25% to 40% due to rainfall in some areas of a much as 43 mm.

"The crop damage will be clearer after three days, so we are assessing the situation," says Walker, chairman of Fruséptima. "What we can anticipate is that the loss is great."

In the case of blueberries, export estimates for the current 2014-2015 campaign supplied by the Blueberry Committee are of 99,500 tonnes; an increase of 35% on last season. So far, 4,500 tonnes have been exported, which represents 80% more than on the same date last year. This volume is in line with the Committee’s estimates for these first weeks of the season.

Executive Secretary of the Blueberry Committee, Andrés Armstrong, said: “The impact of the rains this weekend will delay the harvest by one or two days and will require the use of applications to prevent fruit decay, a customary procedure when such events take place during the harvest period.”

Meanwhile, the estimated impact on production volumes which may have affected some varieties is under evaluation and will be reported in the “Harvest and Export Report of the Blueberry Committee” this week.

Lastly, the president of ASOEX said: “This weather phenomenon has been a blow for us at the beginning of the season, but we hope to be able to meet our commitments in the shipment of fruit to all international markets.”