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State of Emergency Declared in Chile as Frost Destroys Crops

Posted by feww on October 4, 2013

Estimated $1 Billion worth of damage to fruit crops in Chile due late frost

Chile declared a state of emergency on Thursday after a late frost caused widespread damage to fruit crops in the country’s central region, potentially hitting wine production, reports said.

The frost has caused substantial agricultural losses, said Chilean Agricultural Minister in a press release. Exporters have estimated the losses at about US$1billion dollars.

“These frosts are the worst that agriculture has faced in 84 years, impacting the area from Coquimbo to Bio Bio,” said the national agricultural society.

Temperatures have dipped to as low as minus 8 degrees Celsius below zero (18ºF) since the start of spring  in the southern hemisphere, destroying much of the crops in Chile’s central O’Higgins region, a major fruit and wine producing area.

Some growers have lost up to a half of their fruit crops including grapes, peaches, nectarines, kiwis, apricots, almonds and avocados as well as vegetables, which will result in hiring far fewer farmhands.

“Fruit and wine are some of Chile’s largest industries after copper. Fruit exports were worth $4.3 billion in 2012 and wine exports were valued at $1.8 billion, according to government figures. Agriculture Minister Luis Mayol said 30 percent of the fruit that Chile exports has been affected,” said a report.

The frost has damaged up to 61 percent of stone fruit crops, 57 percent of almonds, 48 percent of kiwi crops and 20 percent of table grapes, said the report.

However, most crops have not yet reached full flower and the exact extent of damage is not yet known, according to a major exporter.

The Chilean government says about 50,000 jobs may have been lost in the wine industry, said a report.

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