The Argentine Patagonia is one of the cherry growing areas par excellence in the southern country. Its unique characteristics, in addition to its flavor and considerable size, make this fruit, of origin almost at the end of the world, one of the most requested by international markets.
Of course, being an extreme area, the climate never ceases to surprise producers, who constantly work to anticipate and prepare for various climatic events. Something like this was what happened in recent days, when the trans-Andean landscapes were dyed white, and altought there is always concern regarding the risks, this didn’t take farmers by surprise.
In conversation with Smartcherry World, Anibal Caminiti, Manager of the Argentine Chamber of Integrated Cherry Producers, CAPCI, tells us that “in the mountain range area and in general in Patagonia there are no frost-free periods, that is, at any time, Whether December, January or February, we can have temperatures below zero, although snowfall is less recurrent in the summer season, it does not mean that it cannot occur, we have had unusual situations such as snowfall even on February 9.”
Regarding the snow that affected the sector, the expert explains that although it is not common, it is not something that cannot occur, although it does raise certain concerns. “This event overlaps with the situation of crops that are advanced, already setting, and having snow with low temperatures below zero in these phenological periods is not ideal. The frost defense is done anyway, even if it snows, during snowfall.”
Now, I imagine that you are constantly prepared for this type of situation, that is, it is not something that completely surprises you…
“I mean, there is knowledge of the situation, it is not ideal, we have to work on soils with very good water percolation because the natural water from snowfall is added to the hours of sprinkler irrigation that is done to defend the low temperature. , because the problem is not the snow itself, but the weight it carries on the branches and how it breaks them. For this reason, in Patagonia the crops are all supported on trellises, wires, precisely to protect them from the wind and rain, and to control frost.”
And how do you prepare or how do you handle these scenarios?
“Low temperatures when there is snowfall are not usually lower than -1° degrees, that is, they are relatively easy to control frosts but they overlap with the snowfall event and complicate because water continues to fall in the form of snow. We water it with a sprinkler to prevent it from freezing above the floral organs or fruiting organs that are forming at this time.[…] These are things that can happen, especially in mountain ranges. However, even though in Patagonian areas which are more towards the east or towards the center of the territory, there can be low temperatures, rain and winds, snowfall is more rare to happen, although Patagonia weather never stops surprising you…”
Especially now, when everything is so unpredictable with the weather, you really don’t know what is going to happen from one season to the next.
I would say from one week to the next. Although everywhere we are much better equipped with everything that is meteorological services and prevention, there are things that exceed us. This excess of water and rain are things that complicate and can impact the quality of the fruit, the same thing that happens to us now in December with the high temperatures and solar radiation that is changing the environment and is becoming more frequent, and that also alter the quality of the fruit, so these are situations that in the production of cherries mean having to be day by day looking at how to mitigate the climatic situations that arise, in order to be able to defend our production in the best possible way.”
A promising season
Just a couple of weeks ago, Mendoza began its first harvest of the season, which occurred on a good date, for the third consecutive time, during week 42. Days later, exports were already beginning to take place, and the international markets received the fruit with enthusiasm. This was the prologue of a story that seems to have a good continuation.
Although there is a delay in the stages, this is only around 7 days, which would not imply major problems in the local industry so far. “The stages are delayed, delayed by around 7 days in all regions, from Mendoza to Santa Cruz, to the south of Patagonia for the main varieties. This week the harvest begins in the Chimpay region, in Río Negro, when it usually begins on November 7 or 9, and this is the earliest area in Patagonia”.
“In Mendoza on the other hand, the extra early varieties started on October 19 and the more traditional ones this year were good on dates. At a general level in the country, it is a delay of approximately one week, depending on the place and the variety, but the season is complete, it is going well, there were some other episodes of rain and although there was some damage and splitting in early varieties like Royal Down, it was nothing comparable to what happens in other countries like Chile.”
But in general the outlook remains very positive…
“This is a day by day situation, we will see how the weather turns out,” adds Caminiti.
“This season is going well so far, quite full with regions that frequently have climatic problems like Mendoza, they have progressed very well. We come from two seasons where we have had significant losses due to climatic effects, but this year at least we are fine, this at the country level. It may be that with this we recover exportable balances that decreased in the last two seasons precisely because of this, and that it will allow us to have a better exportable performance, that is what we hope”.