Water will be biggest factor for Chile’s grapes as climate changes, expert says
As the effects of climate change increase global temperatures, Chile’s central valley -- home to its grape industry -- will experience a decline in rainfall.
According to Francisco Meza, the director of Chile’s Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, the country’s central valley will see the largest reductions of around 30-50% over the next 90 years.
During this time frame, the temperature could rise 2-4 degrees Celsius on average, pushing the more humid climate now associated with the grape growing region farther south. The expert also believes that Chile will experience a later flowering and that the final grape harvest will start later as well.
The temperature and precipitation changes will also come with opportunities as growers will be able to change the planted varieties that are possible in Mediterranean climates such as Chile, taking into account the higher temperature and reduced rainfall.
Meza spoke at the 5th Table Grape Seminar, held by Chilean exporter Subsole in Santiago.
Also presenting at the same event, Sergio González, a researcher with the Chilean government’s Institute for Agricultural Research, said that there is still much to be defined before Chile fully implements carbon footprint regulations in 2020.
In the case of fruit such as grapes, the largest generator of carbon emissions comes not from the planting and harvest, but rather in the post-harvest processing, particularly in packing houses. Avocados are the exception, generating more emissions during planting and harvest than in post-harvest activities.
Fruit shipped by airplane also generates a high amount of carbon emissions, while sea shipping is the most efficient.
González said that an expansion of train routes that could bring fruit from packing facilities to ports would greatly reduce emissions.
González also pointed out that agricultural products grown in season and and then are exported can still generate less emissions than products grown out of season, despite the transportation distances.