An early-season report from the Santiago-based Chilean Blueberry Committee forecasts a big fresh-market export crop of high-quality fruit, with processing markets expected to take less fruit than in years past.
About 84,900 tons of blueberries will be exported from Chile this season, according to the report.
The first peak of the export season should occur just in time for Christmas and other winter holiday promotions, according to the report.
The 2012-13 season kicked off the week of Sept. 10 with the beginning of harvest in the earliest blueberry growing regions in Chile, Regions III and IV, according to the report.
Air shipments were very limited at the beginning of the deal, but by the week of Sept. 24 warmer temperatures had sped production in both regions. Exports from the week of Sept. 17 to the week of Sept. 24 increased from .3 tons to 13 tons. That’s up from just 5 tons of fruit shipped in the same week last season.
Growers reported good quality on early-season fruit, according to the committee report. That’s despite the fact that growers reported fewer chilling hours than normal this year.
While down, though, chilling hours were adequate to produce an export crop similar in size to previous seasons, according to the report.
In the 2012-13 Chilean season, regions V11 and V111 in the Central-South area of the country will continue to be the volume leaders, but regions IX, X and XIV will see the biggest growth, according to the committee.
Fluctuations in the Chilean frozen blueberry market could affect how much volume winds up in the fresh market. Chilean frozen blueberry exports have fallen in recent months because of higher production in the U.S. and the largest to-date accumulation of frozen stock in the market place, according to the committee.
About 27% fewer frozen blueberries were exported from Chile in September 2012 than in September 2011, according to the report.