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[Press Release] Variety Renewal Drives Growth in Chilean Blueberry Production

October 01, 2019

This content has been published as provided by its author. It has only been modified from its original version to follow Produce Report editorial guidelines and for necessary website formatting.

Chilean fresh blueberry exports are expected to increase again during the 2019-2020 season to reach 115,000 tons, a 4% increase compared to the previous season.

This growth comes from new plantings that have taken place over the last several years, mainly aimed at variety renewal, but has also subsequently increased the total production and planted area in the country. This new area, estimated at more than 4,000 hectares gained over the last 4 years, will come into full capacity over the coming years when the new plants reach full production. This season, however, climatic conditions will reduce their productive potential due to a lower accumulation of chill hours registered during the winter, as well as a series of frost events that have been occurring since August. In addition, the Chilean Blueberry Committee members have decided not to export a number of older varieties with insufficient shelf life. Due to these various factors, the Committee estimates production will total around 160,000 tons, with 115,000 being exported as fresh fruit, 41,000 going to the processed market, and 4,000 intended for the domestic market.

The new planting statistics show a net growth of 2,500 hectares, reaching a total of 18,374 planted blueberry hectares in Chile. In previous years, total acreage was stable, with new varieties essentially replacing older varieties. However, this net growth in the planted surface will increase production, especially through the restoration of varieties with better quality and higher yields.

Ninety-two percent of this growth is concentrated in the regions of Maule, Ñuble and Bio Bio, the main production areas in Chile, further strengthening their position in the market.

Another important issue that is being taken into account is the early sprouting of blueberries in Chile this season. The lower winter chill hours and days with higher temperatures in August have caused blueberries to “wake up” earlier than usual and the fruit is one week ahead of development compared to a normal year. The Committee plans to distribute an updated forecast in early October, which will consider the effect of September weather conditions on total export volume as well as the expected impact on harvest dynamics for the 2019-2020 season.

 

Image: Chilean Blueberry Committee

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