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  • Chile was unprepared potentially worsening losses

    May 6th, 2016

    Torrential rains hit Chilean walnuts

    The constant rains that have hit Chile in recent weeks have caused severe issues to the country's walnut production, threatening this year's harvest. More than 100 ml of rain have been recorded, affecting 30% of the domestic production. It is worth stressing that 1 mm of rain is equivalent to 1 litre of water per square metre; this torrential rainfall has brought the South American country to a state of emergency, with damages estimated at more than 100 million dollars."Adopting preventive measures was impossible; we knew we'd have rain, but we were not prepared for such intensity. The rains started when we were working in the harvest and have especially affected the late variety Chandler, which is the most common one in the central region. We were forced to accelerate the harvest to be able to start the drying process, so we suffered many limitations and were unable to carry out the process properly, resulting in the quality of the walnuts being affected," affirms Elena Puentes, general manager of the Association of Producers and Exporters of Chilean Walnuts, Chilenut

    Also, given that Chile was unprepared, it did not have the right infrastructure to enforce preventive measures to tackle the situation, making the drying process slower than desired in such circumstances. And while an average of 40% of the total production was already harvested in the northern parts of the country, the most affected central regions started harvesting in mid-March, so the process was at its peak and everything ground to a complete halt due to the floods. "The drying process normally lasts 6-8 hours and it is now taking 24 to 48 hours, and with the infrastructure we have it has not been possible to accelerate the process. The moisture absorbed by the walnuts has affected their quality before the harvest and the slow drying process did not improve the situation and took a toll on the colour of the walnuts," continues Puentes."In the near future, we will try to advance the periods established for the start of the harvest and to improve our infrastructure for walnut drying. We didn't have enough drying equipment available, which prevented us from processing the harvested product quickly enough. At present, it is already clear that there will be a reduction in the volumes available, mainly of extra quality light walnuts, which are the ones with the best price, so those of slightly lower quality will have to compensate for it. But the quality of Chilean walnuts is very high, so we will actually still supply a premium product, only in smaller volumes," concludes the representative of the Chilean Association.