Severe heat experienced in many blueberry-growing areas of Chile over recent weeks could limit exports of fresh fruit during what remains of the 2018-19 campaign.
In a weekly crop report, the Chilean Blueberry Committee said the high temperatures could mean that total export volumes end up slightly lower than last season, against previous forecasts of similar exports.
“On week 6, 4,192 tons of fresh blueberries were exported from Chile. This volume is lower than the initially expected due to the high temperatures in the central-south and south zones that affected the fruit and led to fruit discards,” it said.
The accumulated volume is 98,573 metric tons (MT), which is 3% higher than last season year-on-year.
“From now on, the high temperatures might continue to reduce the amount of fruit destined for fresh exports and also the prevision made last week about reaching a similar volume than the previous season around 110,000 tons,” it said.
The season in the northern growing regions has finished, while harvests of the latest varieties in the north-central area are expected to end next week. Meanwhile, there are still significant harvesting activities taking place in some localities of the central-south area, with the main varieties being Legacy, Brigitta and Brightwell. However, there is currently a significant drop in volumes and the harvests are expected to end within four weeks.
In the southern growing areas, there is currently a lower volume compared to the harvests of the same week last year, and the region is expected to continue harvesting very limited volumes throughout March.
Exports of organic blueberries have increased dramatically this year. By week 6 they were registered at 11,870MT – 42% higher than last season.
Blueberries are not the only fruit to be affected by the severe heat, with apple exporters recently saying that condition and storage life for that commodity may be impacted.