Chilean Blueberry Production Expects Growth in the Coming Season
- by Chandler James
SAN CARLOS, CA - Another September is behind us, and now we enter a new season of growth and prosperity. Fruits from Chile announced this morning that fresh blueberry exports will grow again during the 2019-2020 season, expected to reach 115,000 tons, which is a four percent increase compared to the previous season. This growth stems from new plantings implemented the past few years with the goal of variety renewal, and the ultimate result of an increase in the planted area and production in Chile.
The new area is estimated at more than 4,000 hectares and will come into full capacity during the coming years when new plants reach their full production. However, climatic conditions this seasons will reduce the productive potential due to a lower accumulation of chill hours during the winter, as well as a series of frost events that have been occurring since August. Furthermore, the Chilean Blueberry Committee members have decided not to export a number of older varieties with insufficient shelf life. Due to all these factors, The Committee estimates total production of around 160,000 tons, with 115,000 exported as fresh fruit, 41,000 going into the processed market, and 4,000 headed for the domestic market.
The new planting statistics show a net growth of 2,500 hectares, reaching a total of 18,374 planted blueberry hectares in Chile. In previous years, the total acreage stabilized as new varieties essentially replaced older ones. However, this net growth in the planted surface will increase production, especially through the renovation of varieties with better quality and higher yields. Much of this growth (92 percent of it) is concentrated in the regions of Maule, Ñuble, and Bio Bio, which are the main production areas in Chile.
Another change in the season is the early sprouting of blueberries. The lower winter chill hours and days with higher temperatures in August have “woken up” blueberries earlier and the fruit is one week ahead in development compared to previous years. The Committee plans to distribute an updated forecast early this month, which will consider the effect of September weather conditions on total export volume as well as the expected impact on harvest dynamics during the 2019-2020 season.
With all these unpredictable factors, we may be looking at a Chilean blueberry season like we’ve never seen before. Stay tuned to find out how the crops progress, and keep reading ANUK for the most pressing news in produce.