(UPDATED, Nov. 29) Hail in November will crimp export volume of Chilean cherries and blueberries in 2018-19.
After accounting for recent hail storms, the Chilean Cherry Committee said its current export projection for 2018-19 Chilean cherries is 10.5% lower than last season and off 7.1% from the initial estimate this year.
The current cherry export estimate is pegged at 33.44 million boxes, down from 37.38 million boxes a year ago.
Peak export shipments of Chile cherries are expected the last week of December and the first week of January, according to the group. Shipments will finish by late February.
Most Chilean cherries are exported to China, but the U.S. also receives volume.
Through Nov. 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that season-to-date-shipments of Chilean cherries to the U.S. totaled 200,000 pounds, down from 2 million pounds for the same period last year.
The Chilean Blueberry Committee reported that the impact from hail events was comparatively low, with the hard-hit O’Higgins region representing about 7% of the total planted area in Chile.
However, the committee said hail also reported in some sectors with greater area of blueberries in the Maule Region.
From the metropolitan region to the south, the committee said that more than 4,900 acres of blueberries could have some damage from hail storms.
Chilean blueberry exports for 2018-19 are now projected at 100,800 metric tons, 4% off from the 105,000 metric tons initially forecast. Reduction in volume will be felt in early and mid-season production, according to the committee.
Through mid-November, about 1,905 metric tons had been exported from Chile, mostly bound for North America, according to the committee. Peak blueberry shipments are expected from December through February, with shipments continuing into March.
Through Nov. 24, the USDA reported season-to-date imports of Chilean blueberries totaled 2.4 million pounds, off from 3.7 million pounds the same time last year.