Newsletter 2 - 2021 Season

It´s starting to look as a year of the seven plagues: a drought of biblical proportions, social unrest, followed by the covid outbreak, labor shortages, fires everywhere (included in the hills near Curico), and now traces of Covid were detected in a lot of cherries in China, causing the market to tumble. These traces of Covid were detected in a lot of Chilean cherries last week and after it appeared in social media, sales came to a practical stand-still. Since then, sales have recovered somewhat, but prices and rotation is still way down; 9,000 containers of cherries remain unsold… To top it all off, a tropical rain-front is arriving tonight, with projected rainfall of 30-100mm from Chillan (200 km. South from Curico) to North of San Felipe. It will likely not reach Ovalle or the areas further North such as Vallenar and Copiapo. This is a highly unusual event and the first time this happens in the 29 years I live in Chile.

The cherry harvest from Southern Chile will finish in about 10 days and total volume from Chile so far is 50% higher compared to last year. Just like last year, after such a huge Cherry season, logistics will be put under pressure. Containers will take a while to return to Chile, therefore closer destinations will be hard to reach and causing a general lack of reefer equipment. This is compounded by very high rates for dry cargo, which is also slowing down the return of empty reefer units for repositioning in Chile.

The Grape season is looking good in terms of fruit and quality of the bunches. The labor crisis affected not only cherries but also all species in all growing areas in Chile and some fruit is harvested late (over-mature) or not harvested at all. The industry forecasts a production of 82 mill boxes for this season, representing an increase of 8% compared to last season. Red Globes will keep decreasing, possibly some 20% (last season it dropped 18%). Peru has been under pressure since the very beginning of the season by labor unrest and they expect to finish in the next few weeks. Some white seedless has finished earlier and last Red Globes are facing difficulties in getting full color.

White nectarines Bright Pearl and Fire Pearl are starting. Size is mainly in series 50’s. Color is better than growers’ expectation and sugar level is acceptable (14-16°brix). High temperatures during last days in Central area will push for a faster picking next week. New varieties planted in Chile will have their debut with some volume in the markets. Andesnec 4; Nectariane; NectaPerle and NectaJewel are expected to delight with high brix, good size and excellent postharvest. Plums are coming with medium to small sizes this year. Friar is harvested now and next week we start with Larry Ann. Regarding apples, delay in the thinning of the trees is showing its effect, resulting in smaller sizes than an average year. So far coloration is good, however high temperatures during past few days is delaying color evolution. Depending on location the Gala harvest is slowly starting.

Looking forward to bringing you more upbeat news next time.