The shortage of labor in the peak weeks of production is added as a factor to consumer requirements and has led companies such as Agrícola Cerro Prieto and Agrovision to incorporate the POP and Beauty varieties into their offer.
The Peruvian blueberry business continues to search for the best formula when choosing which varieties to include in its portfolio. And it is that, at the end of 2021, 60 varieties were counted, while in 2016 only 13 were registered, according to information from the Association of Blueberry Producers of Peru (Proarándanos). There are three criteria that guide the choice of producers, and that are becoming more and more relevant: the size of the berry, that the fruit has a less acid taste and that the berry has a good ‘crunch’, that is, firmness. This is related to the need to ensure the number of workers required in the campaign, especially at production peaks, and to meet consumer requirements regarding attributes such as flavor.
“It is becoming a challenge every time to get the volumes of people that are required, in some cases. People are paid per kilo harvested, if I have to harvest 1 kilo (kg) and my berries weigh 1 gram (g) it is 1,000 berries that I have to harvest, unlike if I have a fruit with double or triple of weight. It is more pleasant for the harvester and it yields more”, considers advisor Bruno Mancilla, from Consultora Santa María, a firm led by also advisor Sebastián Ochoa.
The agricultural export company Agrícola Cerro Prieto confirms that between weeks 37 and 40 there is a shortage of labor in Lambayeque. “In those weeks is where the majority of farms in this area are at peak production. People want to get to their goal quickly and have an extra. They no longer want to go to farms with a lot of Biloxi,” says their agricultural manager, Alfredo Chan Way. For example, if a worker can take out about 25,000 kilos/person in eight hours, with a larger-sized fruit he can take out around 80,000 kilos/person.
Agrícola Cerro Prieto has some 1,120 hectares of blueberries in Chiclayo. In addition, this year they will have significant production volumes of POP and Beauty. Currently, the main varieties of the firm are Biloxi, Ventura and Rocio.
In this context, the POP and Beauty varieties were born, both of which are part of Fall Creek’s Sekoya program. At least three companies have incorporated these varieties into their portfolio: Agrícola Cerro Prieto, Agrovision and Agroberries. «Today I have planted two important varieties: POP and Beauty. In other words, by 2022 I will have five varieties in major productions,” confirms Chan. The varieties stand out for their larger berries, their flavor and for having a good ‘crunch’. Firmness helps them to be travelers and arrive in optimal conditions to destinations such as China. Advisor Mancilla says that the ideal is to have blueberries about 16 to 18 millimeters. “You are looking for a large fruit, but not excessively large. A larger volume fruit always tends to soften faster”, he complements.
According to the advisor, it is not only important to obtain large berries, but also to have consistency. “The other important thing is that their caliber is sustained throughout the campaign, that they don’t fall. It happens to us many times, Ventura is starting with an average of 3g and at the end of the campaign he drops to 2.5g. Years ago Biloxi ended up with an average of 2 grams or 1.8 grams. This has led to the desire to search for better varieties,” explains Mancilla.
Both varieties stand out for their more pleasant flavor. According to the consultant Mancilla, the Peruvian industry is looking for a better flavor, since the berry tends to be acidic. “Perhaps many times in Peru one does not realize it, but the fruit from Mexico, the north of the US and Chile is sweeter. In the Peruvian case, there is no temperature differential day and night, which is decisive at the time of fruit ripening. On the coast of Peru, we have a temperature differential of 5° C, the fruit goes from being very acidic to being a flat fruit, which loses its flavor. Trying to raise brix degrees, the fruit is left on the plant for a longer time. That causes him to be physiologically overripe. For this reason, the blueberry harvest index is the color, not the brix,” explains Mancilla.
An Incipient Path
Currently, in Peru the predominant varieties are Biloxi and Ventura. In 2021, 3,291 ha of Biloxi, 2,748 ha of Ventura and 643 ha of Rocio were registered in La Libertad, the main blueberry producing area. But, the hectare of POP and Beauty was maintained, reaching 43.2 ha and 11.34 ha, respectively, last year. In the case of Lambayeque, last year some 1,447 ha of Ventura, 397 ha of Rocio, 350 ha of POP, 324 ha of Beauty and 231 ha of Biloxi were counted in order of importance, according to Proarándanos. The year-on-year increase in the area dedicated to these varieties
in the area is notable. Last year the producing areas of Ica and Ancash had, for the first time, the presence of both varieties.
Variation of the hectare of blueberries in Beauty
La Libertad 11,14 11,34
Lambayeque 34,29 324,29
Ica – 5,3
Ancash – 24,92
A unique flavor that is pleasant to the palate, together with the search for larger berries and traveling fruits, will continue to make a difference when choosing the best genetic material. The club of blueberry growers that has POP and Beauty is even smaller, but it is anticipated that more farmers will obtain the respective licenses over time. “I think these varieties will continue to grow. They are just entering Peru”, anticipates Mancilla. If you would like to know more about our technology, contact us on our website www.harvestharmonics.com
Source: Red Agrícola – Miriam Romainville Izaguir
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