Cherries: Chile renews itself to maintain leadership

"The early zones will have to focus on being even earlier and be well informed regarding the choice of new varieties, to avoid subsequent changes."

In the context of the last Fruittrade 2022, held at the Metropolitan Santiago Convention and Event Center (formerly Casa Piedra), Walter Masman, an agronomist from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUCV), a technical advisor and consultant specializing in cherry trees, gave a talk in which he discussed the problems and difficulties that the Chilean cherry industry has gone through in recent years and outlined the future prospects for the industry to continue leading.

He referred to the problems experienced in recent seasons, mainly caused by the fake news related to Covid-19 in China and the virus search protocols in the 2020/21 season, recalling that January 21 as "Black Thursday for the Chilean cherry", due to the spread of false news in the Chinese social networks, which claimed to have found traces of Covid-19 in national fruit containers.

There were five days in which sales plummeted and prices fell sharply. According to estimates, almost 1.500 containers were not sold in those five days and according to surveys, it is estimated that 70% of consumers stopped buying cherries, mainly because they were reluctant to take any type of risk to their health.

Then in the 2021/22 season, the challenges have continued to be related to the pandemic protocols, adding the logistical difficulties caused by freight and transportation.

volume projection
Beyond the previously detailed external uncertainty, the specialist maintains that attention should be paid to internal problems related to the significant increase in production and the large volume of shipments, which can reach 500 tons in the next season. , which means a growth of more than 10 times compared to the 2012/2013 season. An industry that grows 10 times its volume in just one decade is an industry that needs to be attended to in detail if it is to remain sustainable.

The level of entrepreneurship of new projects has remained within rational parameters and the growth of plantations has stopped, covering almost 63.000 ha at present, which are distributed mainly in the central part of the country, where the region of Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins and the Maule region concentrate 80% of the production, very similar to what happens with blueberries.

genetic programs
Within the scope of the programs present in the Chilean cherry industry, it is worth highlighting the 10 foreign programs, mainly from the US, which seek, through the genetics of the varieties, to extend the harvest period, improve the quality of the fruit, a greater resistance to diseases, more productivity, better size, earliness, achieving a low cold requirement, greater resistance to summer heat and obtaining an early harvest, among other attributes that the market imposes.

There are also outstanding national programs for the genetic improvement of the cherry tree, such as that of Biofrutales SA, which has the presence of Innova - Corfo and INIA, and that of the Fruit Technology Consortium, in which the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) participates. and the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile (Asoex), which seeks to develop and apply genetic engineering tools to cherry plant breeding, both programs seeking to obtain a good caliber of the fruit, more firmness, better quality, low cold requirement, high productivity and good storage.

varietal replacement
The replacement allows to reduce production costs and increase profitability, in addition to reducing productivity losses. Varietal replacement made on time allows adapting to market preferences and improving quality and organoleptic characteristics of the fruit, always seeking the best production characteristics according to the market.

New varieties to maintain leadership
Meda Rex (IVU-115): It is an early variety: 12 – 14 days before Santina; firmness 88 Durofel; 22 Brix of sugar; mahogany red; with a very good postharvest (35 – 40 days); caliber 28 – 30mm; Very firm pedicel (2,8 - 3,0 cm long) and low cold hours requirement (400 HF to 500HF)

Meda Wolf (IVU-105): Early variety (3 days before Santina); firmness 85 Durofell; 23 Brix sugar (mahogany red); very good postharvest (40 – 45 days); fruit with a caliber of 30 – 34 mm; Very firm pedicel (3,5 cm long) and 600 HF required.

Nimba cv: Medium vigor tree with high baling capacity; early harvest (16 to 18 days before Santina); large caliber (30-32 mm); rapid entry into production and high productivity.

Pacific Red cv: Early harvest fruit (14 days before Santina); self-fertile; caliber 28-30 mm and high productivity.

Sweet Aryana: Early harvest variety (approx. 10 to 12 days before Santina); self-fertile; high vigour; firm fruit; caliber 28-30 mm and high productive potential.

Sweet Gabriel: Variety of rapid entry into production; caliber 28-30mm; high vigour; Harvest is between 5 to 7 days before Santina.

Frisco cv: High productive potential; caliber 28-32mm; early harvest date (7 to 10 days before Santina).

Areko: Plant with rapid entry into production; ease of lateralization; attractive bright red heart-shaped fruit; caliber 20-30 mm.

Cheery Glow™: Range of requirement 300 HF to 500 HF; moderate caliber (28 mm); good firmness, FT > 300; very good sweet taste; It obtains sugar early and has good postharvest results.

IFG Cherten: Ripens with Cheery Treat; 300HF to 500HF; good size (28+ mm); good firmness, FT > 325; heart shape and good postharvest results.

IFG Cher-eight: Ripens 12 days after Cheery Treat; cold requirement below 300 hours; good size (30mm); good firmness, FT > 300; good flavor and good postharvest results.

Cerasin PRIM 3,1 and Cerasin PRIM 2,1: High vigor growth habit; not self-fertile, pollinating each other; flowering: medium-late; harvest: 5 to 7 days before Santina; variety of 50-55 days from flowering to harvest approx.; caliber: 70-80% over 28 mm; soluble solids: > at 18° average brix; firmness: 80 durofel approx.; good postharvest (air or sea).

Final Cerasin 12,1 (1151): high vigor; self-fertile; very productive; flowering date: late; harvest date: 10 to 12 days after Regina; caliber: 80% on 28 mm; soluble solids: > at 20° average brix; firmness: 80-90 durofel approx; good postharvest.

Final Cerasin 13,1 (6111): Growth habit of high vigor, self-fertile; very productive; late blooming; harvest 15-20 days after Regina; caliber: 80% on 28 mm; soluble solids: > at 20° average brix; firmness: 80-90 durofel approx.; good postharvest.

The specialist concludes that although the uncertainty will probably remain, it is necessary to maintain clarity about the great focus of leadership and competition. In the early zones there will be changes in the short and medium term, as a result of the onslaught of volume by the new varieties, which can cause the displacement of the traditional varieties for wanting to occupy earlier dates.

“The early zones will have to focus on being even earlier and be well informed regarding the choice of new varieties, to avoid subsequent changes. Do not lose focus on quality in any harvest window. That will keep our name as a country that identifies us so much and differentiates us in the world ”he ends.

This important topic for Chilean cherry producers will be present at the next International Blueberry Consulting Seminar to be held April 13th 2023 in the dependencies of the Monticello Events CenterUsing 2 conference rooms simultaneously to talk about Blueberries and Cherries, and gathered in the same commercial area to expand the moments of interaction between the attendees.

Consult the available stands or purchase your ticket at the following link:

Martin Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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