Betting on higher quality and competitiveness: Chilean Blueberry Committee-ASOEX leads 3 projects in replacement varieties for the southern zone of Chile

Currently, the Chilean Blueberry Committee - Asoex is leading three projects on replacement blueberry varieties, initiatives that will improve the quality and competitiveness of this Chilean super fruit. The initiatives include analysis and field tests that range from the selection of varieties, their handling at harvest and post-harvest.

"These projects are closely linked to our Quality System, which has been implemented for three seasons now. This System has five pillars, one of them being the varietal replacement, where we want to encourage those varieties that perform well, both in production and post-harvest, key factors to compete in the current world market. For this reason, we believe that the development of these projects is very important to reinforce and complement all the work that the Committee has been developing, not only in the area of ​​varietal replacement, but also regarding the effect of climate change, specifically in the productive areas in the south of the country, associating all the extreme events that have been experienced, such as heat waves and frosts, among others ”, Julia Pinto, Technical Manager of the Blueberry Committee of Chile-Asoex, told SimFRUIT

These initiatives are developed within the framework of the PTEC "Technological Development for Export Fruit Growing to Solve Technological Challenges in the Territory Between the Maule Region and the Los Lagos Region", with the collaboration of the Production Development Corporation ( CORFO), the Blueberry Committee, and the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile AG (ASOEX), and the coordination of the Foundation for Fruit Development (FDF).

“To date we are very happy with the results that have been obtained in each of the projects and the proactive work of the Committee, because in order to execute them properly, we have created, internally, a Technical Committee that is made up of specialists from INIA, and from the University of Concepción, our co-executors, the participation of our partner companies being key, as in this way we can validate initiatives and advances, directly with those who will make use of new technologies and varieties in the different productive areas of the country ”, He added.

Julia Pinto highlighted the great collaboration that exists within the sector: “The industry is tremendously generous in validating. In addition, there is also a lot of commitment from the producers - where the evaluation demonstration fields were built - to carry out all the actions that are done in the field, especially if it is thought that they are large pilots, which implies a lot of work "

Blueberry Committee Quality System

Varietal Refill

The first of these projects is entitled: "Variety replacement and optimization of the agronomic management of blueberries to improve yields and quality of fruit in the southern zone of Chile." This initiative has a total cost of 692 million pesos, and is co-executed by the Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) and the University of Concepción.

In this regard, Julia Pinto, highlighted that to date it has been possible to evaluate the productive behavior and fruit quality of new replacement varieties and under new coverage systems for the cultivation of blueberries in the southern zone of Chile. "These tests have been carried out in the experimental units of Linares and Traiguén, testing different types of covers (mesh, raffia and plastic), and establishing protocols for the management of agronomic management practices in the new varieties ('Blue Ribbon' and ' Top Shelf ') under the three types of coverage, including continuous monitoring of productive variables, micro climatic and quality and fruit condition in post-harvest, pests, and the specific protocols for their control ”, he observed.

In addition, it revealed that protocols have been developed for the evaluation of the new variables in relation to nutritional and inoculum management in flowers and fruits and also for disease management. In the same way, parameters for pruning and irrigation management have been evaluated. All of the above, in order to gather information to carry out an economic evaluation of the production model by variety and type of coverage for blueberries.

Among the next steps of this project, are to continue with the productive, microclimate and quality and condition of fruit monitoring, including the incorporation of a new variety "Peachy blue", which is currently in the planting stage.

Likewise, it is planned to continue with the compilation and adjustments to the agronomic management protocols to begin to generate primers (technical guides) and advance in the economic analysis. In addition, dissemination activities (technical meetings) and the generation of publications will continue, as well as the continuity of the graduation process for postgraduate thesis students attached to the Program.

Quality from Harvest

The second initiative is entitled: “Optimization of the harvest management of new replacement varieties for different production systems in the southern part of Chile that allow obtaining high quality fresh fruit. This project has a total cost of 95 million pesos and is co-executed by the Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA), through its Regional Centers of La Platina and Carillanca.

Harvest of blueberries

Among the advances of this project, it stands out that harvest indices have been evaluated in different stages of maturity, and periods or production windows of different varieties of blueberries (Blue Ribbon, Cargo, Legacy, Top Shelf and Liberty). Also evaluating quality parameters, shipping simulation conditions and marketing simulation.

All of the above, to validate harvest indices and harvest windows that allow obtaining high quality export fruit considering new replacement varieties. In addition, the effect of methyl bromide fumigation and harvest logistics on the post-harvest potential of Top Shelf and Blue Ribbon varieties has been studied.

Regarding the next steps, this project contemplates the definition of a harvest index that has the potential to predict postharvest quality at destination. Index that will be complemented with a study that allows defining the effect on the efficiency of the use of labor for this important stage.

Post Harvest: Optimal fruit at destination

With INIA as co-executing agency, the Blueberry Committee is leading the project: "Optimizing postharvest handling of new replacement varieties of blueberries for different production systems in the southern part of Chile that allow obtaining high quality fruit in distant markets of destination ”, and has a total cost of 244 million pesos.

Until now, this project has made it possible to characterize the effect of different covering systems used in pre-harvest: low-density polyethylene plastic (LDPE), raffia and black monofilament mesh, on the evolution of the quality and condition parameters during the storage of new varieties. of blueberries (Top Shelf and Blue Ribbon).

Regarding post-harvest technologies, the effect of these pre-harvest technologies on the final quality of blueberries and their interaction with post-harvest technologies of Controlled Atmosphere, Modified Atmosphere and use of gasification is being evaluated, according to varieties and productive zone. The main technologies evaluated include packaging materials with different levels of ventilation, and the use of emerging technologies.

Regarding future tasks, the evaluation of different post-harvest technologies stands out, considering the effect that the origin of the raw material (productive area, state of maturity at harvest, harvest frequency) has on the effectiveness of these technologies in extend postharvest life, and the use or non-use of gasification at source.

Finally, together with the variables of quality and condition, normally used in the blueberry industry, aspects of the composition of the fruit are evaluated such as the evolution and quantity of anthocyanins in development under the different coverage, and the effect of the conditions of temperature accumulation in the frequency of harvest and internal condition due to over maturity. In this regard, this project addresses with special focus the increase or decrease of variability in product quality for each condition.

“It has been six years for the development of the projects, therefore, we are working with early varieties, which have allowed us, already in the second year, to see an interesting production and to be able to evaluate the fruit, as well as the production itself. It is also important to point out the support we have had through other projects, which for us are satellite projects, because through them we have been able to disseminate and transfer these initiatives, and their results, well, we set ourselves the goal of having results intermediate in each project. Thus, we have been generating graphic material. We have generated informative talks, for example, regarding the growth of the plants, the different covers, the problems we have had with the roots, also with some soil insects, among others ”, he closed.

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