CHILE – Severe weather conditions have harshly impacted cherry crops in Chile as unexpected rains hit the northern central regions of the country on November 10th, 2023.

This unusual phenomenon, likely linked to El Niño, is particularly rare during the spring and summer months in Chile and could mark the most intense November rains in over a decade.

Walter Masman, an expert cherry consultant, has reported that early varieties, such as Santina and Royal Dawn, are experiencing “extensive damage” due to these unexpected rains.

In response to the challenging situation, Chilean authorities have issued recommendations to preserve as much of the harvest as possible.

Jorge Valenzuela, President of the Chilean Federation of Fruit Producers (Fedefruta), acknowledges the complexity of the scenario for fruit producers in the country.

“Growers are now focused on salvaging as much fruit as possible, with the priority on addressing the immediate challenges posed by the adverse weather conditions,” he stated.

Regarding the impact on export volumes, Valenzuela emphasizes that assessing damage is not currently their primary concern.

“Do not ask us about loss estimates, about price increases, about the dimension of the impact,” he said. Right now the situation is very difficult.

Fedefruta is actively providing technical information to fruit growers to help them navigate this unexpected fruit emergency.

Chilean cherry committee unveils inaugural forecast for 2023/24

In a separate development, the Chilean Cherry Committee released its first forecast for the 2023/24 season.

The committee, representing over 85% of the country’s cherry export volume, estimates that Chile expects to ship 95.4 million (5kg) cartons of cherries during this period.

However, this forecast is subject to change due to recent adverse climatic events, such as the unexpected rainfall affecting production in parts of the country.

Iván Marambio, President of the Association of Fruit Exporters of Chile (Asoex), acknowledges the challenges posed by recent climatic events.

“The estimate, showing a 15% increase from the previous season, is subject to change as the season progresses,” said Marambio.

Despite uncertainties, he expresses confidence in maintaining the quality, size, and flavor of Chilean cherries for global consumers, especially in China, a key destination.

Moreover, the recent weather front in Chile hit production regions just days after harvesting had begun, impacting early fruit coloring and the flowering process of later varieties.

Fedefruta’s Jorge Valenzuela noted the erratic nature of spring rains, posing challenges for many producers, and urged for the implementation of damage limitation measures.

Claudia Soler, Executive Director of the Cherry Committee, highlighted the difficulty in estimating this season’s volumes due to ongoing agroclimatic issues.

“The initial estimate does not account for the recent rains or adjustments for late fruit set and developmental changes,” she explained.

 Peak production is anticipated for week 51, with Soler noting that the later Chinese New Year in 2024 will provide exporters with more time for shipments and less pressure compared to the previous year.

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.