Interview with agronomist Diego Gil, agricultural manager with 13 years at Prunesco, an associated company of Chileprunes and one of the main exporters of this fruit to the 5 continents.
In Chile, a few weeks ago the period of development or fruit filling began, which is valid for various Chilean export products, and of course, also for the D’Agen plum, which after a drying process is offered as prunes to more than 70 countries in the world.
Regarding so far this season, the expert, Diego Gil, summarizes that during the winter, at the national level, we had a very low accumulation of cold hours (in several areas the required minimums were not met); while in spring there were many days of low temperatures, rain and little sun, causing very extensive and uneven flowering within the same tree. Even so, he points out, there is a consensus in the industry that a volume very similar to last season is expected with respect to the quantities of prunes to be produced: that is, around 100 thousand metric tons (MT), of which which, it is expected about 20 thousand MT or a little more that could go to the fresh market.
Caliber under observation
“The quantities are fine, but the caliber is something that worries me,” he adds. “Although the fruit looks good, it comes in different sizes on the same tree, with different setting times, which could mean reaching harvest with fruits at 24 degrees Brix (ideal parameter for harvesting), and others with 17. within the same tree.
Possibly, we have a slightly smaller size and conversions (fresh/dry) of the fruit, compared to the 2022/23 season, he points out. If last year there was an average caliber of 70, it is likely that this season it will be a slightly lower caliber.
In any case, to date – mid-November – trees with good loads can be seen in practically all areas or localities with D’Agen plum plantations.
On the other hand, with the large amount of water that fell during this season, the soil moisture was optimal, and the amount of water available for irrigation is good, which “could allow us to face December, January and very hot February, as predicted and, in any case, it would also help the drying process,” says Diego Gil.
Prunesco, born in 1941, and with offices in Pirque, is the largest exporter of prunes in Chile, with an 18% market share.
Founded in 1941 by a group of producers who were looking for better conditions to export their products, the company has today become the largest in Chile, a leader in Latin America and one of the three most important in the industry worldwide, thus reaching to more than 50 markets on five continents.
It has more than 100 producers of various sizes, with areas ranging from 3 hectares to others with around 270, totaling more than 2,500 hectares. The average is 10 to 15 hectares per producer, 65% corresponding to partner producers and the other 35% external.