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Chilean citrus look to new varieties amid shifting weather

With an unusual 2022-23 season that saw overall Chilean citrus exports increase by 46% year-on-year due to unexpected rains and warm temperatures, the country’s growers are looking at new cultivars to manage the changing Latin American weather.

Physiology expert Johanna Martiz tells FreshFruitPortal.com that changes in Chilean citrus production have been occurring since the 2021 season, with spring rains and increased temperatures, all of which undoubtedly affect the processes of citrus plants, stalling the quality and productivity of the fruit.

Martiz’s research focuses on sustainable citrus production techniques, including the use of biostimulants, growth regulators and pruning, as well as the use of netting to avoid seed formation in mandarins and the development of new low-seed and seedless varieties of mandarins and lemons.

“Our market today is no longer focused on volume, or to get more quantity per acre. The goal is to have a larger size, preferably sweet flavor and with good coloration, it is no longer paid by pounds but by size of the fruit. This is extrapolated to all types of fruit, we used to eat cherries the size of a coin and today they look like plums,” Martiz says.

Chile is currently developing its own varieties such as La Isabelina and an early Seedless clementine that does not need netting. The sector is also working on launching a very low-seeded, productive, thornless lemon and a very low-seeded mandarin in the next few years.

The U.S. remains the top market for Chile, accounting for 88% of shipments this past season.

Source: Fresh Fruit Portal