Chile: Snow reported in table grape production area

Rain and snow fell in the Atacama desert region in Chile last week, which affected an area that produces 10 percent of the country's table grapes.

During the 25 and 26 of August, the Copiapó Valley was impacted by the weather, though was limited to a specific area, industry members told Fresh Fruit Portal.

"There wasn't much damage as it snows all year in the area and it was only a small area and the impact on the table grapes was even less," Cristian Allendes, president of the National Agricultural Society (SNA) said.

The effect was limited to production in the upper part of the valley and only an area within the field, so it wasn't all over Atacama, Jorege Valenzuela, president of Fedefruta said.

Valenzuela also said that this has happened in past years.

The Deputy Manager Agricola, of III and IV Region of Agrícola UAC Ltda. said that in his case there was no impact and that the lowest temperature reached 2.8°C.

Affected area

It snowed from the Lautaro dam to Juntas and on the hills where there is no cultivated fruit, the agronomist, Dragomir Ljubetic said.

It also snowed in the interior valleys such as in Iglesia Colorada where the table grape vines are located, but the affected area is relatively small.

"It was a different snowfall. In Iglesia Colorada the snowfall was reported being between 35 and 40 centimeters high in the snow plane. In Manflas, where other vines are located, the snowfall only reached five centimeters," Ljubetic said.

Temperatures reached -1 or -2°C in Iglesia Colorada and in Manflas the temperature was above 0°C.

The freezing of the snow the next day creates a bond with the heat from the water, the snow melts early in the morning from the sun's rays, but it also takes the heat away while it is melting.

After it snows, the temperature is close to 1°C and when the snow melts very quickly, it absorbs heat from the plant and causes frost damage.

The damage can be of two types: the first mechanical, which has to do with the weight of the snow on the sprouts that break it; the second is the burning of the plant tissue. Although there was mechanical damage where the snow fell, it depends on the sprouting percentage, Ljubetic said.

"It is a damage that is difficult to quantify because many of the vines, although they were sprouting, had not begun their maximum sprouting."

Damage must be viewed over time as it is still difficult to estimate how much the percentage of damage is, he said.

"However, the impact on the entire valley is very low, close to five percent of all the fruit."

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