Climate instability leads to increased blueberry rejections in Chile

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Climate instability leads to increased blueberry rejections in Chile

The climatic instability of rains and high temperatures  has affected Chile's blueberry production since mid-December, leading to an increase in crop rejection at the point of origin, according to the Chilean Blueberry Committee.

Valle Maule general manager Raul Dastres says these weather conditions, combined with high volumes and labor shortages, led to a shift towards frozen blueberry exports.

"There was very good fruit in general in the first half of the season until mid-December," he says.

"We rejected a lot of fruit at its origin and that's why we didn't have great problems on arrival. In addition, prices were low and so it was a good alternative to sell as IQF (Individual Quick Freezing).

Driscoll's production manager Alejandro Sanhueza says the rain was very unusual in the region around Chillan in particular, while rejections increased due to higher quality requirements from receivers and supermarket chains in target markets.

"We have always noticed this is the fruit that has the least problems, it goes well, but this year it's had more difficulties - if they (markets) could put up with a bit of soft fruit before, now that's less likely," he says.

Dehydration and early rot have been other causes for blueberry rejections at home, while there were problems even with Brigitta and Elliot varieties, which usually run smoothly.

Dastres says the industry needs to be more prepared for unexpected situations, while Sanhueza adds it is essential for the industry to shorten delivery times by working with shipping companies to improve blueberry shelf life.

"It (the industry) should be more stringent and maybe not harvest for export, depending on the intensity of rains," he says.

Source: Chilean Blueberry Committee/ edited by

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