The new blueberry export season has got underway in Argentina with more than 125 tonnes airfreighted to various markets in the first week of September, according to the Argentine Blueberry Committee (ABC). The US was the main destination, followed by continental Europe and Canada.
The fruit was grown in the north western provinces of Tucumán and Salta, where producers are increasingly switching their focus to early varieties such as Snowchaser, Emerald, Springhigh and Primadonna.
The committee said harvesting of mid-season varieties such as Star, Jewel, Misty and Blue Crisp was due to begin this week. Production is due to peak in mid-to late October.
ABC said exports from north western regions were forecast to reach 8,000 tonnes this season, while the north east of the country (Entre Ríos, Concordia and Corrientes) is expected to ship 8,500-9,000 tonnes, and Buenos Aires a further 1,800-2,000 tonnes.
However, earlier this week, parts of Concordia were hit by severe hailstorms that are believed to have resulted in around 10 per cent of the local production being lost. Néstor Loggio, production secretary for the regional government, told El Entrerios that some farms in San Bonifacio y Colonia Roca had lost 100 per cent of their crop.
In spite of the hail, quality is reported to be good this year, with an otherwise benign climate favouring plant growth and producing sweet fruit with a predominance of larger sizes.
“Argentina has firmly established itself as the leading Southern Hemisphere supplier during the early window,” ABC’s Inés Peláez told Fruitnet. “Last year we shipped more than 10,000 tonnes between August and October, compared with 860 tonnes from Peru and 500 tonnes from Chile.
This year we expect exports in the early stages of the season to be somewhat higher than in 2014.”