Agronometrics in Charts: Rains Jeopardize Chile’s Cherry Season

By Agronometrics | 14 November 2023

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the Chilean cherry season. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.

Amidst the commencement of the cherry export season to China, the winter rains in Chile’s cherry-producing regions have presented formidable challenges that could significantly influence the production of the fruit.  According to the Asoex Cherry Committee, an initial production estimate of 100 million 5-kilo boxes was anticipated for this season. However, due to recent rains, the expectation has been revised to 95.4 million boxes. Despite this adjustment, there is a projected 15% increase compared to the previous year’s production, which totaled 83 million boxes.

cherry volumes by histor 5

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.

(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

The persistent and prolonged nature of the rains has the potential to disrupt the delicate balance of water in soils designated for cherry tree cultivation. While adequate water availability is imperative for robust tree growth, an abrupt excess can give rise to complications. Saturated soil disrupts root oxygenation, diminishing their capacity to absorb nutrients and water, leading to water stress even in ostensibly well-drained soils.

This phenomenon alters soil dynamics by reducing aeration, culminating in potential root rot problems and, in extreme cases, the demise of young trees or diminished production in more mature trees. Moreover, surplus moisture in cherry orchards elevates the risk of soil-borne pathogens, such as fungi and bacteria, which could cause tree diseases. Fungal diseases thrive in humid conditions, directly impacting fruit quality and, consequently, jeopardizing crop viability.

Jorge Valenzuela, President of the fruit producer federation, Fedefruta, acknowledged the widespread damage caused by the rains. According to Jorge, early cherries, depending on the variety, have suffered losses ranging from 15-20% to as much as 50% due to splitting. The Metropolitan and VII Regions experienced the most severe damage, with Valenzuela noting a decrease of at least 30-40% in fruit production.  Valenzuela urged affected producers to apply fungicides and adhere rigorously to phytosanitary programs to prevent moisture damage in their crops. “Soils have a water absorption limit, so in some cases it will be difficult to drain farms because the irrigation infrastructure has had to work more or less due to the saturation of the soil,” Valenzuela said.

Expert cherry consultant Walter Masman emphasized that early varieties, especially Santina and Royal Dawn, are witnessing extensive damage due to the unexpected rains. The abnormal intensity of November rains, a rarity in Chile’s spring and summer months, has added to the challenges faced by cherry producers. Fedefruta also warned that the wet weather could impact the development of fruit in orchards that were in full bloom when the rains struck. “This phase of flower growth is very delicate and showers could mean complications in the volume of the crops,” the federation said, adding that it is gathering information with its directors, advisors and regional associations to assess the situation.

cherry volumes by origin 10

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.

(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.

Witten by Sarah Ilyas

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