Raisins bear the brunt of frosts in northern Chile
Although an estimated 450-500 hectares were affected in the province, much of the reported damage has been to plants destined for raisin production rather than table grapes, said Timothy Taffe, president of the Copiapó Valley Agricultural Producers and Exporters Association (APECO).
Taffe explained that the region has had mostly favorable weather to date, setting the region up to meet or surpass its standard export volume of 10 million to 11 million boxes.
He added that raisins are a secondary product for northern Chilean producers and do not have a siginificant volume.
"Normally the climatic conditions are adverse and cold, but this year the conditions were quite benign. Budding has been level and there are more branches per plant," he told www.freshfruitportal.com.
Production in the province is currently about 10 days ahead of schedule, setting the zone up for harvest in early to mid-November.
The strong overall forecast for the zone does not, however, mean that all producers fared well during the frosts. Some producers in the zone have reported up to 100% in losses due to the recent weather.
South of Copiapó, from the Coquimbo Region (IV) to Maule (VII), initial reports indicate more extensive frost damage, most notably for cherries, blueberries and stonefruit. Certain sectors could be affected by up to 80%, although it is still too early to estimate total volume loss.
Agriculture minister Luis Mayol called for calm among producers as the government measures the true extent of the damage.
Mayol reassured those with crop protection insurance. The number of insurance plans held by farmers in Chile grew from 15,000 in 2009 to 20,000 in 2012, Mayol said.
The minister added that there should not be a notable price impact on fruit and vegetable sales.