Vanguard is pleased to provide an update on Chilean cherries for the 2019/20 season.
Growing conditions and quality
There was an advance in this year’s harvest, mainly due to good weather conditions and lack of rain throughout the spring (a welcome change over last year’s crops which were effected by heavy rainfall and hailstorms in the central area of Chile).
This season has been developing normally, and peak crop is expected this month with Bings, Lapins, Stellas, and Kordia varieties. Growers are already observing improved quality, consistency, and condition versus last year. So far, the cherries have measured between 26-30 mm.
Production and export volumes are projected to increase by 15% from last season, reaching around 210,000 tons or about 40-42 million boxes. This increase may be explained by the addition of new orchards and productivity advancements made to already established orchards in Chile.
The total production of the cherry crop in Chile reaches just over 37,000 hectares, which is almost double the cultivated area from the 2015/16 season. Average yields range from 9-16 tons per hectare, comprised of existing orchards in full production with above average yields, and younger orchards with yields increasing year-on-year.
Cherry orchards are concentrated in the central zone of Chile, between the regions of El Maule and O’Higgins, followed by Bío-Bío. This central region has seen a steady increase in production in recent years, achieving a growth of 10% per annum.
Although the majority of Chilean cherries are grown in this central part of the country, production is currently emerging further south too. Growers anticipate higher prices from this area because harvest in the south begins right when producers of the central zone of the country are about to conclude their season. Therefore when Chilean cherry growers located further south offer Sweet Heart, Lapin, Kordia, and Regina varieties, they can fill the gap in market demand in later months. One company located in Chile Chico harvests cherries during January, while another, located near Colyhaigue harvests in February. They are the latest producing companies of Chilean cherries in the southern hemisphere.
Cherries to market
The main destination for Chilean Cherries is still China. In the 2018/19 season, 87% of this fruit was exported to China. There are strong existing commercial ties with China, and cherry producers are confident that the projected increase in production for this current season will be acquired mainly by Chinese importers and retailers.
Shown in photos are: the current appearance of pre-harvest Chilean cherries (Sweet Heart and Lapins varieties).