Chile: Relief as growers prepare for unexpected rains amid severe drought
Normal to moderate rainfall is expected in Chile, falling on the central Valparaíso region to Los Lagos in the south.
Industry members don't see this rain as a threat to grape production nor a solution to the extreme drought the country is facing, but are hopeful that it will add snow to the mountain tops.
"What happened in January with loss of much of the fruit shouldn't be a problem now as there is no fruit or foliage present making the risk practically non-existent," President of UVANOVA Carolina Cruz said.
"We have begun watering grape fields during the winter to have a high moisture content in the soil, so this rain will contribute to that."
Producers have also been passing instruments over the soil to break the hard upper layer, making the entry and distribution of water easier.
"This is a good time to take advantage of the use of herbicides that need water to be activated and do their job well," Cruz said.
Jorge Valenzuela, President of Fedefruta said although the rain is not going to solve the problem of a 14-year drought, it is a relief.
There are reported water deficits of 80 to 90 percent depending on the valley. He said to see how much rain will fall in the central zone, but any amount will be a tremendous help at this point.
Regarding citrus, copper sprays are used to protect the tree, meaning no fungi will rot the fruit.
Cherries and blueberries are still dormant, with only the earliest varieties of cherries awakening, Cristóbal Ortiz, partner at Frisku Foods SpA said.
Producers are preparing for post rains and frosts and in the case of cherries, fans or towers with heaters have long been used to bring in warmer air and prevent frosts, he said.
Farms in the Valparaíso to Los Lagos regions should postpone chemical applications and tasks that require machinery through cultivated soils for these days the Chilean Meteorological Directorate in its Agronometeorological Risk reported.
It recommends being cautious due to the intensity of the winds predicted and using channels so excess water that accumulates near the plants can easily exit.
"Preferably keep microchannels and covers closed and in general make sure that water does not pool on the edges of greenhouses," the report stated.