Opinion: blueberry varietal change in Argentina and the effect on early markets
July 28, 2014

Growers from different parts of the world were able to appreciate advances in the varietal conversion process that has developed over recent years in Argentina, during a visit to the fields of Agroberries SA to finish off the 6th Regional Technical Day organized by the Blueberry Producers’ Association of Mesopotamia Argentina (APAMA).Ines-Pelaez-sq1

The visit took place under the expert guidance og agronomist Gonzalo Carlazara, technical manager at Agroberries and leader of the technical team at APAMA, with animportant group of growers who followed followed the evolution of the company’s varietal transformation process over the years.

But these fields were just one example among many from growers in Argentina who have taken on the risk and commitment to consolidate early supply for markets around the globe.

Agroberries’ first 50 hectares were planted back in 2003 and 2004 with the varieties O’Neal and Misty.

In 2010, seeing the problems created by varietal monoculture in the area, experimental developments slowly started to take place across different parcels of land, introducing new varieties to observe their behavior in search of varieties that were earlier, of better quality and with greater postharvest shelf life.

Thus, from 2011 to now there has been a shift in hectares to very early varieties like Snowchaser, and varieties with high production and excellent fruit quality like Emerald. Currently, the fields have 20 hectares of Snowchaser planted with some already in full production, with plants in their third year showing production potential of 15 metric tons (MT) per hectare. In addition to five hectares of Emerald blueberries planted with excellent productivity, fruit quality, size and postharvest qualities, there are now 58.5 hectares planted in total.

However, it’s not just important to achieve good early volumes, but for companies to be constantly incorporating technology to obtain high fruit quality, with the flavor and firmness that consumers in international markets are looking for.

The growing investment in technology also looks to lengthen the postharvest life of varieties that are the most apt for traveling by ship. Technological efforts need to reach the cultural activities in the packing sector, and shift anti-frost systems toward total spray coverage to replace the old partial coverage system. Also needed are the evaluation of anti-hail nets along with improvements in control stations, packaging and the latest sorting technology.

A garden of varieties for early harvest evaluation Ines-blueberry-summary At the start of 2013, Agroberries also incorporated the latest genetics from the University of Florida that exist in Argentina, with the varieties Scintilla, Farthing, San Joaquin and Sweet Crisp. In the words of the agronomist Carlazars, “while the varieties were planted in the middle of summer in 2013, an excellent growth potential is already perceived for them, and their initial behavior has been seen in the field with their first fruits in the spring of 2013. In this season of 2014 we will continue evaluating them”. 06/27/2014 Fresh Fruit Portal