Climatic conditions combined to prune yields of cherries, table grapes, apples, walnuts, and wine grapes in Chile during the 2015/16 marketing year, reports the USDA Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).
Higher than ideal temperatures reduced the number of chill hours during the 2015/16 winter. This meant blooming was delayed, uneven, and lasted longer, and the fruit set reduced for all fruits in Chile.
Another adverse factor was the rainfall during spring and the harvest season. The rain in October and November decreased cherry production and that in mid-April – during the harvest of apples, table grapes, walnuts and wine grapes – decreased the quality and volume of exportable fruit, GAIN said.
Thirdly, high relative humidity during summer caused fungus diseases like Botrytis on table and wine grapes.
The less than ideal number of chill hours in winter and spring delayed the cherry harvest about 10 days. A 27.7% drop in exports was initially expected but exports recovered temporarily in January. Overall, however, the MY2015/16 export volume of 83,729 tons was down 19% on MY 2014/15.
China/Hong Kong was the destination for 84% of Chile’s cherry exports and, because of the reduced volumes, prices were 15% higher.
The climatic conditions in spring caused uneven bloom, delaying the Royal Gala harvest 1-2 weeks. The harvest window was shorter and the last fruit left did not achieve the colour requirements and was too mature to harvest – factors preventing export.
Fruit volume destined for the processing industry (juice) was high and the prices dropped but reception of Chilean Royal Gala apples was good in the US market.
The Fuji variety was damaged the most by the mid-April rains, since it was in the middle of the harvest and there was some fruit cracking.
The volume of apples exported by Chile from week 1 to week 20 (May 22) was 351,152 tons, which was up 16% on the same period in 2014/15. Overall, it is forecast to export a total of about 660,000 tons of apples in 2015/16.
Chile’s table grape harvest was also delayed, which decreased exported volumes, though a recovery in exported volumes took place in April.
Overall, 2015/16 exports are expected to drop to 660,000 tons, down 12.5%.