Chilean fruit growers pour praise on recent rainfall -

Chilean fruit growers pour praise on recent rainfall

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Chilean fruit growers pour praise on recent rainfall

Some Chilean fruit growers believe disaster has been averted for this coming summer season, as the agricultural industry revels in plentiful rainfall throughout much of the drought-stricken country.

Rainfall was registered over recent days from the VIII (BioBio) region in the south up to the II (Antofagasta) region in the north, at a time when many of the major exporting country's watersheds were at critical levels.

Despite some reports of minor damage in some central regions due to strong winds, the consensus throughout Chile's agricultural industry is that the rains were overwhelmingly positive. Rain_droplets

Table grape season 'saved'

A representative from table grape exporter Exser, which recently acquired a licence from U.S.-based Sun World to grow its varieties, told the coming season had been 'saved'.

"These rains were very good news for the north of Chile," quality control manager for the U.S. Jose Ureta said.

"We have been saved for one more season, and we can now rest a little easier knowing that our production will be fine for the coming campaign."

"We have had more rain than we would normally expect for this time of year."

Exser's production is based in the IV (Coquimbo) region, and the harvest is due to kick off around December.

Ureta added the recent rains would also give a boost to next year's grape growing season as well.

'Purely good news' for avocados

The head of avocado export company Santa Cruz, which has production between Coquimbo and Santiago in the center of Chile, said he was now feeling much more positive for the future.

"These rains have been purely good news for us," general manager Javier Fuchslocher Buttazzoni said, adding the season was just getting underway now.

"There have been no negative effects whatsoever on production. These rains came at a moment when they were really needed.

"What this means is that we can develop our avocado season a bit more calmly and we can also protect the productive potential of our orchards."

Most benefits to central blueberries to come next year

A representative from major exporting company Agricom said the rains would undoubtedly have positive effects on blueberry production - based between Coquimbo and BioBio - but he believed the bulk of these benefits would be seen next year.

"It has all been very positive. The rains were mainly focused in the IV [Coquimbo] and V [Valparaiso] regions," blueberry and cherry manager Rodrigo Parra said.

"This is mainly going to benefit the blueberry season for next year. Obviously it will still help a bit this year, but the effects will principally be seen for next season, but seasons are generally more affected by the conditions of the previous year."

He added the company had been 'put at ease' moving into this upcoming blueberry season.

As for Agricom's cherry production, Parra said the rains would of course be beneficial, but since production was based in southern regions where the drought's impacts were less pronounced, the effects would not be as significant.

"Our cherry production is located from the Metropolitan Region [Santiago] southwards, and so while these rains are positive for filling up the supplies, these regions didn’t really have any major problems with water beforehand," he said.

Southern grower 'never had a water problem'

A blueberry exporter, Gabriel Ormeño, who has production based in the southern BioBio region and also serves as an adviser to Chile's Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta), echoed some of Parra's remarks.

"We never had a problem with water here to begin with," Ormeño said.

"This area in the south of Chile has not faced the same problems with the drought as the central and northern regions.

"Supplies throughout the country are about 25% lower than what they should be because of the drought, and so of course it’s great that this rain will be able to recuperate some of that."

Chile to enjoy a 'more regular' irrigation season

The country's Ministry of Agriculture also released a statement hailing the rains' positive impact on the fruit and vegetable industry, saying growers could expect a 'more regular' irrigation season than the last few years.

"We have made a positive assessment of the impact of rains for the agricultural sector, and while we are sympathetic to those growers who have experienced damage, we believe the impact of the recent rains has been more positive than negative," Agriculture Minister Carlos Furche said.

He added the rains had allowed the country's groundwater supplies to recharge to a certain extent, and the capacity of reservoirs in northern regions would improve 'significantly' in the coming months.

In addition, Furche said the amount of snow accumulated in recent days could be the equivalent to double or triple the amount of rainfall, and so when it thawed out it would further boost reservoir levels.

However, despite all the positive impacts of recent weather, Furche emphasized that Chile was still very much under drought conditions, and more significant rainfall would be needed to correct the water deficit still present in many regions.

Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons

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