We know the post-mortem on the Chilean fruit season isn’t done yet, but apparently the stone fruit deal did not have great numbers during the first quarter. Here is more intelligence to inform us on past and future fortunes for apples, pears and grapes in Chile.  Check out the semiannual USDA FAS report on Chilean deciduous fruit:

http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/Commodity%20Report_FRESH%20DECIDUOUS%20FRUIT%20SEMI-ANNUAL_Santiago_Chile_13-05-2009.pdf

From the USDA report summary:

New estimates show that production of table grapes and pears will increase slightly in MY2009 (Jan-Dec 2009), but apple output which has been affected by abnormal high temperatures during late spring and early summer will fall slightly, when compared to the previous season. For the coming year, although it is to early for a forecast no major changes in production are expected as the planted area has not expanded and most orchards have reached their mature stage of production.

On apples:
In spite of good weather conditions in most growing areas for apples during the Chilean winter and spring (Jun-Nov 2008), as was indicated by industry sources, some production areas were apparently affected by alternate bearing, as last year we had a bumper crop. Additionally, high temperatures late in the spring and early summer, reportedly affected the quality of the production. Adverse climatic conditions, like higher tan normal temperatures during late spring and summer months in most production areas is thought to be the main reason for the fall in volume and quality of the production (smaller fruit size). As a result our new production estimates for MY 2009 were adjusted downward. The higher than normal temperatures also had an effect on the color and faster maturing of the fruit determined by a lower pressure reading of the pulp, leaving higher volumes of fruit out of export quality. For example the Gala variety which represents 39 percent of exports fell 15 percent due to color, size and pressure and red varieties like delicious which represent over 23 percent of exports are estimated to fall close to 20 percent. Green varieties like Granny Smith which represent 17 percent of exports are also expected to fall mainly due to sun burning stains, size of the fruit and pressure. Consequently exports are also expected to fall. For the coming Marketing Year (2010) we can expect total apple production to be similar than last year as a production is expected to expand, due to a slight expansion of the production area and/or some orchards which are in the incremental stage of production and the replanting with higher yielding varieties by a large number of producers, is expected to keep increasing production volumes in the coming year.

As a result of a higher production in Europe and the United States and larger than normal stocks at the beginning of the Chilean apple export season the smaller export demand for apples will result in a fall of volume exported in MY2009 when compared to the previous year.

On grapes:

As a result of favorable weather conditions in most growing areas, total output in MY2009 (Jan-Dec 2009) is estimated to be slightly larger than last year. Precipitations concentrated during the winter months, absence of frost and normal temperatures during spring weather are factors that favor a higher than normal fruit production. For the coming season, production is forecast to be similar than this season as total planted area to table grapes is not expected to increase. New planting are reportedly only replacing old aging orchards that are coming to an end of the production period, are being uprooted. Some contacts in the industry believe that total planted area could fall as some producers will not replant orchards due to a fall in the economic returns that has being affecting table grape production in some areas with lower yields and higher production costs.

Due to a slightly larger output and a good quality production, exports are estimated to be marginally larger in spite of an expected weak export demand, due to the economic crisis which is affecting almost all Chilean fresh table grape export markets.

On pears:

Favorable weather conditions, with precipitations concentrated during the winter months, an absence of frost and normal temperatures during spring weather favored the pear production in Chile. Additionally the higher tan normal temperatures during late spring and summer months in most production areas which affected apple output, apparently did not affect the volume and quality of the pear production. As a result a slightly larger than last production and export is expected in MY2009. For MY2010 as of now we forecast a similar than this year production due to no changes in planted area and no recently planted orchards are coming into production. 

The estimated larger production is expected to result in an expansion of exports.