Minimal effects of frost, rain and hail in November on blueberry production in Chile

According to information provided by the Blueberry Committee of Chile-ASOEX, with the support of IQonsulting, producers in the Central and Central-South zone had impact weather events in the first two weeks of November, which has worried the agents of the industry. Frosts of varying intensity on November 01 from the Maule-Sur region to the Bío Bío region, and rains between Thursday, November 10 and Saturday, November 12, which affected from O'Higgins to the south, with some sectors where hail also fell.

Although each of these phenomena can be very detrimental to blueberries, it is important to properly evaluate the impact in order to measure the effect on the export of fresh blueberries from Chile and not only analyze the case of some highly affected producers which, although important, can induce to oversize the phenomena at the country level.

The evaluation of the climatic events in blueberries in the mentioned regions, was compiled by iQonsulting and yields the following result:

1. The rain did not affect production for two reasons: on the one hand, the producers hurried the harvest of the early varieties that were ready and, on the other, the phenomenon dissipated by lowering the intensity of the rains. These had an average of 5 mm of falling water and only in some sectors it reached between 10 and more mm.

2. The hail that accompanied this rain was very limited. It was estimated that the impact on fresh exports is only 0,1% of the total estimated for Chile and therefore does not warrant a change in the estimate.

3. Finally, the frost of November 01 had a greater effect on blueberry production, however, it is limited to the Ñuble region, mainly to the Coihueco commune and with less intensity in the San Ignacio and El Carmen communes , the same as in Maule-Sur towards the mountains. The frosts caused variable damage between 10 and 20%. Other sectors, although they were affected, the intensity was very less and no damage can be seen. The estimate indicates that the loss of fresh exports could be around 900 tons, equivalent to 0,9% of the total estimate for Chile this season.

Due to the low impact on the volume of climatic phenomena, the Chilean Blueberry Committee has decided that it will not lower the original estimate, estimated at 98.288 tons of fresh blueberries and 60.000 of frozen. Especially when Chilean exporters are focused on fresh exports of the highest quality varieties and making a high selection in harvesting and packaging.

As of Sunday, November 6 (week 44), 1.171 tons of fresh blueberries had been exported, 12,8% less than last season due to the delay due to the cold spring at the beginning, and it is very likely that the drop will be offset by the higher temperature forecast for the next few days. Likewise, the highest quality varieties, belonging to group 1 of the Blueberry Committee's classification, represent 72% of the total exported so far, in a clear sign of restructuring of the industry towards high quality varieties.

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