The Argentinean Blueberry Committee (ABC) has revised initial export estimates down by 900 metric tons (MT) due to the impacts of frosts experienced in growing regions during July and August.
The new estimate will mean the exportable crop is down 7% year-on-year at 14,000MT, compared to the marginal 1% decline forecast in early September.
ABC general manager Ines Peláez told www.freshfruitportal.com in a statement that the fruit was delayed a little, outlining the reasons why in detail.
“For Tucuman, both during fall and the onset of winter, above and below normal temperatures were registered, along with below normal chilling hours reported,” she said.
“This situation caused an advance in the maturity of most varieties. On July 21, the situation changed with the appearance of a polar air mass, which brought frosts of unusual intensity and duration to the region while some varieties were in a sensitive phase of development.
“In terms of phenology in fields with frost control, the harvest of early varieties such as Snowchaser, Springhigh and Emerald had already started in May.”
She said conditions were similar elsewhere, while the country had even more intense frosts during August.
“The situation is similar for Concordia where, from late fall to mid-winter the cold weather was delayed, with temperatures above normal, resulting in the early production of buds on the blueberry plants.
“At the end of the month of July the first wave of polar cold reached the country, with temperatures between -2°C (28.4°F) and -3°C (26.6°F).
“A second cold front on August 12-13 hit more intensely than the one of July, which reached -5°C (23°F) to -6°C (21.2°F). During August 26-27, temperatures reached – 4°C (24.8°F) to -5°C (23°F), unusual temperatures for this region at that time.”
She said that while almost the entire blueberry area in Argentina had active frost control systems, some plantations were damaged, causing an average decline of 15-18% for exportable volumes.
“This frost damage was seen in most of the plantations of Entre Ríos and Corrientes.”
She added the harvest would have more pace in week 40, reaching its peak in week 43.
“Flights from Tucuman airport will start with rhythm in week 41,” she said.