Chile: Iniagrape-one volumes set to double during current season

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Chile: Iniagrape-one volumes set to double during current season

A Chilean-developed black seedless grape variety is set to see a sharp uptick in volumes during the 2017-18 season with production expected to approach half a million boxes. 

Harvesting of Inigrape-one, which was bred by the country's Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA), began at a farm in the northern Copiapo region on Dec. 20. 

The variety is said to have 21 Brix degrees, and high acidity levels combined with a long postharvest life allow it to exceed the normal maturity thresholds of many other grape varieties, according to the varietal management entity.

Speaking to Fresh Fruit Portal, a representative of Andes New Varieties Administration (ANA Chile) said this season would run until around mid-March, when the campaign wraps up in the central O'Higgins region.

"We expect that between 400,000 and 450,000 8.2kg-equivalent boxes will be harvested and packed this season," ANA Chile's vine product manager Diego Bustos said.

If achieved, he said these figures would represent more than a year-on-year doubling of production volumes.

"This increase in volume comes alongside rising interest from buyers, who have been contacting us to find out who is growing it in Chile - which is a strong sign of acceptance," he said.

The first planting stage of 375 hectares in Chile is nearly complete, Bustos explained. The plantings are distributed from Copiapo down to through the Metropolitan and O'Higgins regions.

The grape has previously been shipped to China, the U.S., Japan, the U.K. and South Korea, which collectively receive 90% of exports.

"Last season we received very positive feedback as to the fruit and its condition, taste and appearance. We hope that this market perception is repeated and instilled," Bustos said.

Iniagrape-two on the horizon?

While Iniagrape-one is already finding success in international markets, INIA and ANA Chile are also setting their sights on the next variety they hope to commercialize. 

A red seedless variety currently named 'Advanced selection 68.158' looks to have a promising future as a mid-season grape, ANA Chile general manager Luis Fernández said. He added the variety had a similar harvest period to Thompson Seedless.

The selection also seems to be highly productive, in addition to having an elongated berry shape which is expected to make it attractive for Asian markets.

Fernández explained the variety was still in the hands of INIA, which is evaluating how it performs in different areas. Some 1,200 plants have been distributed to nine farms from Copiapo in the Coquimbo region to San Fernando in the O'Higgins region.

"We have covered practically the entire table grape-growing area and are seeing how this advanced selection adapts to each of these conditions," he said.

"We are still in the early stages, but it looks promising and attractive. Who knows if we will be able to obtain Iniagrape-two? But there are still a lot of tests to carry out - especially regarding post-harvest, as a certain volume of fruit is required to properly assess its ability to travel."

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