Chile's peach area down, cherries set to rise

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Chile's peach area down, cherries set to rise

Chile's peach and nectarine cultivation area has declined in recent years but growers have planted more productive varieties, according to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report.

A USDA Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report said most producers have been replacing old orchards with new varieties, which was especially the case with nectarines.

According to the department's estimates, planted area looks set to fall by 3.34% in 2012.

The report said weather conditions would probably be more favorable for the 2011-12 season, with expectations the South American country will accumulate enough cold hours for good budding in most areas.

Around 55% of Chile's peach and nectarine exports are sent to the U.S., while Latin America receives 23% and Europe purchases around 16%.


Chile's cherry planting area has followed a similar course to peaches and nectarines this year, but significant plantings in recent years mean there are a lot of orchards still in the incremental stage of production.

The GAIN report said this means cherry production is expected to increase in the next five years, while at present the varieties Bing, Sweet Heart and Santina represent more than 88% of cherry exports.

The report also highlighted the introduction of more weather resistant cherry varieties, which have been planted further south.

"Although Chile has great potential for cherry production, every year the total output is affected by both climatic factors and/or the extreme delicacy of the fruit. A pre-harvest rain or other adverse weather conditions can damage the delicate skin of the fruit," the report said.

The report said Chile had an advantage in cherry exports over other countries like South Africa, where there is cheap labor but temperatures are too high, while New Zealand does not have enough suitable land and Australia has water problems.

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