Early ripening for Argentine blueberry season

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Early ripening for Argentine blueberry season

Argentina's top blueberry growing province has its first export fruit of the season en route to the U.K. in small volumes, according to the Tucumán Blueberry Producers Association (APRATUC).

APRATUC manager Guillermo Olivera told www.freshfruitportal.com some varieties were more advanced than last year due to uncommonly high winter temperatures and a lack of intense frosts.

"The first varieties are producing excellent quality fruit and the rest of the varieties are showing normal fruit development - the flowering was a little bit earlier. For example, now it's 30°C (86°F) and that's good for the plants," he said.

"Weather conditions have been favorable until now for the crop as the frosts registered were short in duration and of low intensity.

Despite the early advancement, Olivera said export arrival dates to the U.K. and the U.S. would be as per normal.

"The first shipments from Tucumán are destined for the United Kingdom, as fruit without quarantine treatment. Shipments to the American market will depend on the demand and price they offer."

He said the prices in the U.S. still weren't good enough to ship there yet, but it is hoped the industry will have the volumes in late September to send air freight blueberries to the market with a direct flight to Miami.

"It's something that we could see but I'm not sure," he clarified.

"If I wanted to send fruit this week to the United States this week for example, it would have to go through Buenos Aires, because there isn’t much fruit for a direct flight."

He said increased costs in U.S. dollars had led to a loss of competitiveness for the industry, with labor, chemical and fertilizer expenditures weighing in on growers.

He said it was "highly necessary and urgent" for a state policy to improve this situation, but growers were still positive for the year ahead.

"Every season is different, and this season will be no exception. The incorporation of Asian markets as new destinations for the fruit will have an effect that is difficult to predict.

"As growers we haven't lost our optimism, we will see what happens."

Related story: Argentina seeks new blueberry route to U.S.


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