Argentina’s berries survive winter frosts

09/12/2011 01:00:00 AM
Tara Schupner

So far, so good.

That was the word from Argentina blueberry growers and U.S. importers in late August as the start of season approached.

Poor weather, including frost, has hampered growers the past few seasons. Argentina has had its share of cold weather in recent weeks, but as of Sept. 1, cool weather had not had an adverse effect on the fruit.

“Argentina has had some frost damage, but overall the volume is forecast to have an increase of about 10% over last season,” Mike Bowe, vice president of Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc., Coral Springs, Fla., said Aug. 30.

Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer of Wish Farms, Plant City, Fla., said Aug. 31 that Concordia recently had five nights with freezing temperatures, but most of the farms in that growing region have frost protection.

Tucuman, the earliest of the country’s growing areas, was largely unaffected by the cold weather in July and August, Wishnatzki said.

In the past few seasons, that northern area had been hit hard by frosts just before harvest was to begin.

“In Tucuman, there is not much frost protection, so they are at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Bowe said. “In Concordia and Buenos Aires, there are more farms with frost protection.”

Concordia grower Ulises Sabato, owner of Blueberries S.A., said his farms are designed with artificial lakes that can be used to spray the crops and protect them from freezing temperatures.

One night of frost protection can cost him up to $10,000, he said.

“Unless we have hail or some other significant event,” Sabato said, “our quality looks to be excellent.”



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