A decisive time for new cherry varieties in Chile

A decisive time for new cherry varieties in Chile

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A decisive time for new cherry varieties in Chile

New cherry varieties and the behavior of classic ones were the main topics addressed in the first edition of Cherry Tech, an event organized by Yentzen Group and SmartCherry, where expert cherry consultant, Walter Masman, reviewed the Chilean industry and the steps to follow in the coming years to maintain business success.

Masman says Chilean cherries have undisputed leadership in cultivation, with 97% of the share in the southern hemisphere. 

"We are by far the most relevant player, followed by Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. If we add their combined volumes and multiply them by 32, just then do they reach our production volumes."

He explains that the industry has had exponential growth in the last 22 years. This is reflected in the 153,000 acres planted, with the O'Higgins and Maule accounting for the largest volumes. 

Given the growth and success of the industry, the advisor gave a projection regarding the volumes that can be obtained in 2025-26, "it is likely that we will have a peak in volume. This year (2023) will be a bit of a hinge year given the good results of last season and the eagerness from producers to keep planting."

What is the next step?

Masman thinks it is necessary that the Chilean cherry industry analyze what happened with other products that have enjoyed good productivity and profitability, like grapes, which suffered a substantial drop in volume from 2015.

Similarly, blueberries suffered a big drop in export volumes forcing industry members to look for a change in varieties due to market demands on firmness, flavor, and fruit caliber.

What is the cherry industry looking for?

Masman pointed out that they must prioritize good appearance, excellent internal qualities, firmness, strong red color, no mechanical damage, no rot, green pedicels, good flavor, sweet-acidity balance, and homogeneous flesh color since market demands are increasing.

Is Chile ready for varietal change?

Masman explained that there are currently 13 genetic programs, of which two are in withdrawal because they did not fulfill expectations and the other 11 programs are still running in Chile.

He added that there is a wide range of varieties, so the industry must be aware of what is coming.

"In Chile, Biofrutales has an ongoing breeding program with selection 21, it is a bicolor variety, with improved Reinier characteristics and it will probably be marketed next season."

He added that cherries could be produced in Chile’s northern and southern zones to give them different characteristics. Chile’s weather can range from the driest desert in the world in the north to the cold, snowy Patagonia in the southern tip.

Regarding varietal replacement, Masman raised a relevant issue related to shared responsibilities: "Let us share the successes and also the failures. Let's put ourselves in the producer's place. Since there has to be a commitment from genetic programs to create varieties with potential, but also limiting volumes so that this does not overflow at some point."

The advisor called on nurseries to have the commitment to develop a good plant. "Undoubtedly, the commitment of the grower to follow the management is also important. There are few who today assume the real commitments and responsibility of having a genetic program because we can tell the producer what to grow and develop, but it's them who decide what to plant," Masman said.

New cherry varieties

Regarding the new varieties that are being developed in the world and in Chile, Masman mentioned that they have high vigor, good calibers, and accelerated phenologies. 

"However when these new varieties are growing, we see the manifestation of streaks and breakage, so they are going to be more susceptible to diseases. With an explosive level of vigor, they need to be able to regulate vegetative expression and to be able to put them in a proper conduction system".

He indicated that, given the accelerated growth, it is necessary to manage all the appropriate levels, when the cell division starts.


According to Masman, Chile will continue to grow in area and volume according to the results obtained. 

"Apparently there is a need to replace some varieties. We are probably at the turning point of being able to make changes; success will depend on the degree of information and responsibility assumed by the entire production chain."

He added that Chile is today the country with the largest genetic offer, which involves greater challenges, commitments, and joint work of the whole industry.

The first edition of Cherry Tech in Santiago, Chile.

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