Chilean fresh blueberry exports are expected to grow again during the 2019-2020 season to reach 115,000 tons, a four percent increase compared to the previous season.
This growth comes from new plantings that have occurred over the last few years. This has taken place mainly for variety renewal, but has subsequently increased the planted area and production in the country. This new area, estimated at more than 4,000 hectares over the last 4 years, will come into full capacity during the coming years when the new plants reach full production. This season, however, climatic conditions will reduce the productive potential due to a lower accumulation of chill hours registered during the winter, as well as a series of frost events that have been occurring since August. In addition, the Chilean Blueberry Committee members have decided not to export a number of older varieties with insufficient shelf life. Due to all these factors, The Committee estimates total production of around 160,000 tons, with 115,000 exported as fresh fruit, 41,000 going into the processed market and 4,000 headed for the domestic market.
The new planting statistics show a net growth of 2,500 hectares, reaching a total of 18,374 planted blueberry hectares in Chile. In previous years, the total acreage was stable, with new varieties essentially replacing older varieties. However, this net growth in the planted surface will increase production, especially through the renovation of varieties with better quality and higher yields.
Ninety two percent of this growth is concentrated in the regions of Maule, Ñuble and Bio Bio, the main production areas in the country, further strengthening their position in the market.
Another important issue that must be taken into account is the early sprouting of blueberries in Chile this season. The lower winter chill hours and days with higher temperatures in August have “woken up” blueberries earlier and the fruit is one week ahead in development compared to a normal year. The Committee plans to distribute an updated forecast in early October, which will consider the effect of September weather conditions on total export volume as well as the expected impact on harvest dynamics during the 2019-2020 season.