Sunburn sizzles Brazilian apple crop

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Sunburn sizzles Brazilian apple crop

Hot weather in the weeks leading up to the start of Brazil's apple season will cause volume to fall slightly this year, according to the president of the Brazilian Apple Growers and Exporters Association (ABPM). Brazilian apple sunburn Feb 2014_2 panorama

Although the full extent of the damage is difficult to predict, Pierre Nicolas Pérès told that output will likely fall by more 10% due to sunburn on the fruit.

"Analyses show that there is probably a 15-20% decrease in Royal Galas, which will reduce the overall crop by 9-12%," he explained.

"Fujis were not affected, however, as their season starts a month later."

In mid-February, the World Apple and Pear Association (WAPA) announced that Brazil's apple production would total 1,180,000 tonnes this year, up from 1,051,000 tonnes in 2013.

Although the recent inclement weather will reduce that figure, Pérès noted that far fewer hailstorms this year, except for in the region of Caxias, could mean that Brazil’s overall volume will not be too far off initial predictions.

Pérès, who is also the general manager of Brazilian apple supplier Pomagri, described the three weeks before the start of picking on Jan. 27 as difficult.

"The weather conditions were not good - there was a shortage of rainfall, temperatures were extreme, ranging from 22-35°C (71.6-95°F), and the nights were warm too," he explained.

"The hot weather has caused sunburn on the fruit, while in some areas the fruit has fallen from the trees due to heat stress."

The weather conditions varied depending on the production area, according to Pérès. Although the shortage of rainfall in Fraiburgo was not that bad, he said the impact was more critical in Vacaria and São Joaquim, while Caxias was hit by thunderstorms which brought hailstones.

Quality outlook

Following a difficult season last year – when a huge frost at the beginning of the blooming period burnt the best flowers – WAPA's 2014 forecast puts Brazil's apple crop back to the level achieved in 2012.

Although the weather conditions have not been perfect this season either, Pérès said most growers were looking forward to a good crop.

"Sizes will be medium to small as usual for Brazil," Pérès clarified.

"We’ll have clean, quality apples with no russeting."

"The fruit is very crunchy this year, and the flavor and brix are both good. For controlled-atmosphere shipments it looks like the quality will be outstanding if the fruit is picked with the correct pressure."

Export refocus

According to ABPM, Brazil’s 2014 apple exports should be slightly higher than last year thanks to a better exchange rate with external markets.

However, Pérès pointed out the export market was demanding big sizes – of which Brazil has little volume – so most fruit will be sold on the domestic market where prices and demand are still very high.

By focusing on the hugely attractive and relatively risk-free domestic market, in recent years the apple sector has been able to cope with the ongoing economic challenges in Brazil posed by an often unfavourable exchange rate as well as rising production and labor costs.

Meanwhile, the remainder of Brazil's apple production still heads to traditional European receivers, although each year exports are rising to Asia and the Middle East, which prefer the smaller-sized apples that Brazil produces.

"Brazilian exporters are continuing to develop these markets and that trend will remain in 2014," Pérès explained.

"Certainly Bangladesh will be a very important market this year – probably the second-largest for Brazilian apples."

Other destinations in the region include India, Singapore, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Qatar, Kuwait, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea.

Nevertheless, Pérès said Europe remains an important market for Brazilian apples since importers there are starting to pay more.

"It’s not perfect yet. But the Netherlands is still the number one importer of Brazilian apples in the world, while the U.K. is third, France fourth and Germany fifth.”

Varietal development

While Royal Gala accounts for 60% of Brazil's apple crop, followed by Fuji, the sector is continuing to investigate the potential of new varieties, such as Monalisa.

"Monalisa is a promising new variety that will probably be developed over the next three years now that trials have been made.

"It’s a good looking apple, it stores very well, and it has a good balance between sugars and acidity. But we need to carry out tastings with consumers. If it’s accepted then it will be ready for large scale planting."


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