Chile’s worst forest fires in six years are starting to impact the country’s cherry and blueberry industries, destroying orchards in a fresh threat to global fruit supplies.
In the southern region of Nuble, some producers of cherries and lemons “have lost their land and all their years of work,” growers association Fedefruta said in a statement. Temperatures of 44C (111F) have caused blueberry growers there to lose hundreds of tons of fresh fruit, it added.
At last count there were 301 active fires in central-southern Chile, fanned by hot and dry conditions, adding to disruptions in neighboring Peru’s fruit industry from a wave of anti-government protests.
To be sure, the reporting out of Chile is still anecdotal, with no register of damage in terms of lost hectares or volume in the fruit industry. Nuble is the third-biggest cherry producing region after O’Higgins and Maule and Chile is the top cherry exporter, with production estimated to grow 19% this season, much of which is earmarked for China.