Chile: Table grapes hardest hit by storm amid agricultural "catastrophe"- Fedefruta
The heavy and unseasonal rainfall in much of Chile over the weekend has caused an unprecedented disaster for the fruit industry, according to the chief of the Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta).
Jorge Valenzuela said the torrential rain, landslides and hail that hit central and southern growing regions in the middle of the summer harvest season, with table grapes the hardest-hit crop.
"These rains were a climatic phenomenon out of proportions, a catastrophe that the fruit sector had not seen before," Valenzuela told Agriculture Minister María Emilia Undurraga on Monday.
"At this moment, we see that the most affected fruit crop is table grapes," Valenzuela said.
"We estimate that there is splitting on 50% of the mid-season varieties - which were about to be harvested between Valparaíso and O'Higgins, without considering other damages such as the fall of fruit and vines that did not support the weight of the water."
The president of Fedefruta added that 40% of the volume of Chile's annual fresh fruit exports corresponds to table grape shipments.
He also reported damage to stone fruit in the central region - such as plums and canned peaches for export - as well as blueberries to be harvested from Ñuble to the south.
In the central area of Malloa, 75 millimeters (3 inches) of water fell in less than 24 hours, "which together with the heat and the 29 degrees this Sunday in the O'Higgins Region, generate a favorable scenario for the proliferation of fungi and diseases", he said.
The president of Fedefruta also indicated that this climatic disaster and its effects on fruit growing should be seen as a national issue through quick solutions, such as the adaptation of a support resource during the pandemic, for farmers who report damage and compromise in their livelihoods due to this crisis.
In addition, he requested to expedite the acquisition of applications and tools to prevent further fungal damage to the fruit.