Unseasonal rain gives boost to Chilean crops
Heavy rains over the weekend gave Chile’s agriculture industry a boost despite the unseasonable timing of the storms. The Valparaiso and Maule regions saw the greatest rainfall but reported no immediate crop damage.
Luis Salazar, a meteorologist with the Chilean Meteorogical Office, said that rainfall reached up to 15 mm in the Valparaiso Region and upwards of 24 mm in Maule where storms concentrated in the foothills.
Both regions have below average rainfall this year. In the Valparaiso Region’s capital, Valparaiso, rainfall is currently at 330.1 mm, compared to the average of 362.4. The number does, however, exceed last year’s number recorded at this time at 291.4 mm.
For the Maule city of Curicó, rainfall is at 485.4 mm, compared to the average of 658.8 and last year’s 403.9 by this date.
Julio Galleguillos, an agronomist with the Valparaiso Ministry of Agriculture, said rain used to fall during winter and early spring but not at this time.
“But with climate change everything is moving forward. We’re expecting this year to have more rains during late spring, maybe early summer.”
He said he was not worried at this point however, because the region needed more water for its crops.
“Our biggest issue right now for the summer time is the lack of water for irrigation. We’re working on it right now with some wells we have in the mountains and trying to get all of the people to have better management of the water and the rivers,” Galleguillos said.
He said more precipitation for summer was a good thing for farmers.. Only if strong, unseasonable rains continue later into the year should producers begin to worry.
Galleguillos could not give crop projections but said if heavy rains continue, quality issues may arise and cause decay for grapes, cherries and stone fruits.