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Chile: Cherry production to fall up to 65% in the Eighth Region

"Although there is no systematic evaluation of the damage caused by episodes of low temperatures and high rainfall occurred during the months of September and October this year, various specialists that visited the area estimated that 60-65% of the productive potential of the region was affected. Moreover, considering the occurrence of episodes of erratic rainfall during the remainder of the development and maturation of the fruits of this species, the situation may worsen for those producers who do not have plastic covers on their gardens to prevent the water from directly contacting the surface of the fruit, which may present cracking problems at the end of the period."

This is the conclusion of the report commissioned by the Regional Ministerial Secretariat of Agriculture and prepared by professionals from INIA regarding the situation affecting cherry production in the Eighth Region.

The information was released by the regional head of Agriculture, Rodrigo Garcia, following an inspection he conducted with experts from INIA in the sectors of Queime and La Gloria in Quillón, an area in which a group of small farmers supported by Indap have a high cherry production.

Garcia stated that the study took into account the largest areas of cultivation in the region, namely the province of Ñuble, which concentrates 1,075 hectares, and the province of Bio-Bio with 208 hectares. "We found variable damage, but some sectors were affected by 60%, so the Seremi took two steps through the Indap: giving payment and credit facilities to farmers so they can buy inputs for the remainder of the season," he said.

Garcia stressed that producers should now focus on the proper technical management, applying the respective fungicides in the corresponding dates. "Our interest is that the rest of production remains in good conditions so that producers are able to get better prices and somehow recover some of their losses through the higher prices they might obtain due to the decrease in supply," he added.

Cristian Balbontín, an expert in berries from the INIA Quilamapu, spoke about why the cherry crops had been severely damaged. "The crops received a high hydraulic load due to the rainfall, which damaged the flowers and reduced the activity of pollinating insects. The low temperatures together with the rainfall during flowering and small fruit development states affected about 60% of production," he said.

According to the report, the most significant damage was produced by the frost, as this damage is irreversible. There are ways to mitigate the damage caused by the rainfall, such as the application of fungicides, a practice that small farmers use little, despite widely known technical recommendations.


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