Chile: No major avocado, citrus damage reported due to cold snap
A cold snap that hit Chile over the weekend and brought rare snowfall to the capital Santiago appears not to have caused much damage to citrus and avocado crops.
That is according to the grower associations of each respective commodity, although both highlight that official data and figures will not be released for a few days as damage in the fields may not be immediately apparent.
Cold temperatures were felt throughout much of the country's central and southern regions over recent days, with areas from Coquimbo down to Los Lagos affected.
A temperature of -7.5ºC was recorded in some parts of the Metropolitan region and -3ºC in O'Higgins.
Santiago was even blanketed in a layer of snow measuring up to two inches, reportedly the heaviest snowfall the city has experienced since 2007.
Citrus Committee president Juan Enrique Ortúzar told Fresh Fruit Portal there had been no initial reports of major damage to crops.
"A big help was that the soil was damp as there's been a lot of rain recently, and that functioned as a preventative measure," he said.
He added that many growers had invested heavily in wind machines, which also helped to avoid frost damage.
Another point he mentioned was that over the years growers had been changing the crops they grow in the areas that were more exposed to the cold, planting more resistant crops like peaches and walnuts.
Meanwhile, Hass Avocado Committee general manager Juan Enrique Lazo said he had not received any reports of severe damage in the country's orchards.
"This could affect the crops by delaying the oil production by a couple of days and the fruit sizing might be slightly delayed, but in terms of fruit damage we don't think there's anything," he said.
He explained that as a result of many years of severe frosts, the industry had also been relocating avocado orchards away from the higher risk areas.
Sprinklers and irrigation were also used to retain humidity, he said.
A representative of Cabilfrut - a major avocado and citrus company that is affiliated with California-based Mission Produce - said the company was still assessing its orchards in different regions.
He said that for avocados it was difficult to measure damage after just a couple of days after the frosts as more time was needed for any visible damage to show.
"Either way, so far we believe that the damage is very minor and almost insignificant, since the majority of production areas received 10-20mm of rainfall in the early hours of Saturday, which helped a lot with the humidity and minimized any damage," company president Juan Pablo Cerda said.
As for citrus he said the company's production was concentrated in the Valparaiso region where there was no frost damage.
However, he added it seemed growers in the Coquimbo and Metropolitan regions may have seen some minor damage.