Argentine cherry shipper loses entire production to hail
Heavily rainfall in Chile's south-central regions in mid-October was estimated to have shaved off up to 30% of some early cherry varieties.
On the other side of the Andes in Argentina, a representative of a company called Vista Alegre based in southern Neuquén said there had been a climatic phenomenon that he had never seen before in the region.
"Between October and December it is a desert here, it is very rare for us to receive rain and even more rare to receive hail. I had never seen this before, generally there is hail in our valley occasionally after January, so this has taken us by surprise," Carlos Enríquez said, adding the hail was so severe some people had even been evacuated from the region.
He said between 130-160mm of rain fell in just 48 hours, which is the equivalent to an entire year's worth in the area.
Vista Alegre has 200 hectares of farmland in Neuquen, with around 80 hectares currently under production. All of the volumes are usually destined for export, but there will be no shipments this year.
"Due to our location, we were the only ones to lose all our production. We received the full impact of the hail on all our varieties and farms. We are talking about 800-1,000 metric tons (MT) of fruit," Enríquez said.
"As is the case with Chile, we also start with the Royal Dawn variety and that variety was almost completely affected by the rains."
Enríquez added the harvest was just about to kick off.
"In the case of Santina, Lapins and the other varieties that are coming on, we had not seen damage in the fruit until now, but we have lost everything," he said.
Despite the issues faced by Vista Alegre this year, Enríquez emphasized the weather phenomenon was unprecedented, and he said within four years he expected the company's production to double.