Chilean raspberry varieties have proved to be a success for Spanish producers and exporters.
Currently, Masiá Ciscar SA is the licensee for Spain and Portugal. The varieties were developed by the Genetic Improvement Program in Chile's Fruit Technology Consortium, in collaboration with Dr. Marina Gambardella, Program Director, and a professor at the Catholic University of Chile.
This collaboration was born of an agreement signed between Masiá and the Consortium in May 2016. It began that same month with the launch of a field test, where they first evaluated the response of the Chilean varieties in comparison to other varieties already planted. The evaluation was made managing different planting times and always in comparison to other varieties of the sector.
The varieties' behavior
According to Enrique Masia the manager of Masia Ciscar SA, during the 2016-17 campaign the work has focused on the agronomic evaluation of these varieties. "The results have shown that our varieties are in a champion area and that they have nothing to envy from the varieties in the sector," he said.
In this context, the representative said that the Santa Catalina Chilean raspberry variety had a strong high day neutral character and that it was very productive. "The production of the first harvest in May, June, July and August exceeded a kilo and a half per plant, which is very good. The response to winter pruning has been positive, and there is a very interesting production potential for spring. The most interesting thing about this variety is that we can work with it all year and get two crops from the same plants, or have a new basal bud to harvest it, instead of the previously harvested plant," he said.
In addition, he said, "the fruit's radial diameter exceeds 22 mm, while the polar diameter exceeds 25 mm, both parameters increase as the crops advance. The average weight of this raspberry is about 5 grams and it always has more than 9 degrees Brix, which ensures its sweetness."
Regarding the Santa Clara variety, Enrique Macia said that it was "a very productive variety, and moderately high day neutral. The productions of the first harvest in May, June, and July exceeded a kilo and a half per plant, but the yield in August only amounted to 750 grams per plant. Thus, we do not consider it to be the most successful variety for August, as it is more sensitive to winter than the previous variety. The fruit's radial diameter exceeds 21 mm, the polar diameter exceeds 23 mm. The fruit's average weight is around 5 grams and it always has more than 10 ° Brix. In short, it is a variety with very good organoleptic qualities."
The Santa Teresa variety is also very productive and moderately high day neutral. "It is a variety that we will retest, to better assess its adaptation. It achieves a good size, but it doesn't surpass the behavior of its sisters," he said.
"For the 2017-18 campaign we intend to cultivate about 19 hectares of these varieties, as long as we get enough material. To this end, we are working directly with Chilean nurseries and with the Consortium," Enrique Masia stated.
Regarding projections, he said that they expected to produce about 120 metric tons of fruit in autumn, from October to late November. "Half of this amount would be of Santa Catalina and the other half of Santa Clara. In addition, we expect to produce 130 metric tons of the Santa Catalina variety in winter and about 120 metric tons of fruit in spring (half of Santa Catalina and half of Santa Clara)," he stated.
He also said that their goal was "to produce the raspberry in the summer months this year so that we can produce Santa Catalina raspberries all year round in our facilities."
"Next year we'll unveil these varieties in the market and, if the customer's acceptance is good, we'll allow more farmers to plant them in the 2018-19 campaign. We still haven't decided under what formula they'll be able to plant them, as this is a detail that we have to negotiate with Chile's Fruit Technology Consortium," he said.
Finally, he said, "even though the strawberry is the berry we market the most, we think that these Chilean varieties of raspberries could account for 15 to 20 percent of our berry sales in a couple of years."