Chile and own genetics: "We have a sin at all levels"

The fact that the Chilean blueberry industry does not have its own varieties suited to its reality becomes very difficult to understand.

It is difficult to remember the number of years in which the subject of proper genetics in blueberry varieties in Chile has been discussed and re-discussed. Dozens of meetings, seminars and articles asking themselves this big question in an industry with obsolete cultivars and in urgent need of renewing its production structure. Task that started, but slowly and late.

My Listings

The answers to this concern generally lie in placing the problem in the lack of financing, although there have been numerous research projects, both public and private, and from time to time the emergence of a variety that will solve this or that problem is announced, although with time these ads stay only on that.

At a time when world demand increasingly demands higher levels of quality, in flavor, brix grade and turgidity, for consumption. Added to appearance requirements, such as size, bloom and texture, it is striking that an industry of more than three decades does not have adequate own varieties to cover these demands and shield the industry in the international market.

Multiple challenges

If we add to this reality our own challenges, which are related to the varied amount of soils and climatic conditions in which the blueberry is grown in Chile, which is present from the sunny semi-desert north and lacking in water resources, to the southern southern , extremely cold and rainy, the fact that the Chilean blueberry industry does not have its own varieties suited to its reality becomes very difficult to understand.

A great sin

When asked the Chilean expert and analyst of the international industry, Isabel Quiroz, from IQonsulting, her answer is brief and emphatic: "That is a great sin", she declares and maintains that there are multiple reasons for this to happen.

To give just one example, Onubafruit has announced the creation and market launch of six of its own varieties ...

  • Why don't we do it ...!

Exactly! Why do you think this happens?

  • Well, that is part of the elements of competitiveness that we must adjust and it is a great failure that we have. It has been tried to replace with the genetic programs that Asoex or Inia have. There have been initiatives, both public and private, but we have not prospered. It has taken us a long time to get into the subject.

Is there a lot of pressure from foreign nurseries ...?  

  • There is a development issue in that area in Chile. I believe that there is not a developed muscle, at the producer or nursery level, that has been dedicated ... because this should have been since the beginning of our industry. I know geneticists, in quotes, because they are rather hybridizers, not geneticists, because they have not studied, for example, in New Zealand, where everyone is looking for the new variety.

    It is something that is internalized in the producers to go to visit their gardens, to look for the variety that mutated, to try it, and you realize that in this search each producer can have a different variety. Some thrive and some do not. Apart from centralized and professional genetic programs.

    So I think that in Chile a little of that is missing, and the other ... which is a very personal perception, I think that this does not happen because in Chile the producers visit their gardens very little, I say it in general, but that is my thought. So I think the issue of not having our own genetics is because we have a sin at all levels, both geneticists and producers.

The topic of the lack of own genetics is not only old in the blueberry industry in Chile, but it is debatable, so it will continue to be recurring in the industry's conversation in future meetings or gatherings. The blueberry continues to spread across the world map, encompassing climates and geographies unthinkable for its cultivation just a decade ago, making the issue of genetics increasingly relevant.

Martín Carrillo O. - Blueberries Consulting

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