Weather takes toll on size of Argentina's grapes
Growers of table grapes in the San Juan province of Argentina started the harvest with several difficulties with the plants, results of the unstable spring weather, reported local newspaper Diario de Cuyo.
Cold, windy days—and less water at some farms due to drought--caused seeds to be smaller and bunches to produce grapes of varying size. That requires more careful picking, which leads to a higher labor cost, the website said.
The problems were first seen among the Flame and Superior varieties at farms in Pocito and Albardón, where the first grapes are being picked for export to Europe, the principal market.
“We have several problems with the size of the grapes, produced by alternating weather. We had cold one day, heat the next,” Santiago Warnes, manager of Expofruit, a major exporter, is quoted as saying. The drought caused smaller bunches in late areas, he added.
Expofrut expects to ship 16,000 metric tons of fresh grapes from San Juan province, which in total is expected to produce 60,000 MT of the fruit, the report said.
But there are two signs that could calm the main players in the sector. The health of the fruit is optimal, despite having some scares as a result of sporadic rain in the last month. And the harvest has been delayed long enough for the grapes to achieve optimal sugar content, which is required in European markets, the report said.
“This is a season where above all we are determined to assure a very good level of maturity in the fruit and that’s why (the harvest) started later,” Enrique Ahún, manager of Patagonian Fruit Trade, is quoted as saying. Last year, the harvest started on Dec. 5.
Exporters have some reservations about Europe, which is in an economic crisis, but so far that has had little impact on food.