Chile’s grape harvest delayed by lower spring temperatures
Lower temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere spring in 2010 caused historic delays in Chile’s grape harvest that affected the pace of fruit exports, according to statistics from the government’s Agricultural Research Institute (INIA in Spanish).
The harvest in the Atacama and Coquimbo regions of northern Chile was delayed by 10 to 20 days compared with a normal year, which consequently has changed the timing of grape exports. Researchers attribute the delay to lower temperatures, which have been steadily declining since 2003.
According to statistics from the INIA’s center in Vicuña, Chile, the average temperature in December 2010 was 17.4 degrees Celsius (63.3 degrees Fahrenheit), compared with 19.8C (67.6F) in December 2003, according to the website. The harvest in 2010 began on Dec. 27, while in 2003 it began on Dec. 1. October 2010 was particularly cold, with an average temperature of 14.6C (58.3F), compared with October 2003, when the average temperature was 17.7C (63.9F).
Some management practices such as fertilization and irrigation used inappropriately can delay the harvest, but when the delay is widespread over a large geographical area the cause is normally weather-related, the website said. For grapes, temperature has a key role in the date of the harvest because it directly influences the growth of sprouts and bunches.
INIA collected temperature averages from 2006 to 2010, and compared them with the statistics from 2003, which had the earliest harvest of the last 10 years.