Anyone looking to get some delicious Chilean fruit this winter is going to be disappointed, as the worst frost in more than 80 years has damaged 50 million boxes of fruit exports — causing the country to declare a state of emergency in its agricultural sector.
The Chilean Fresh Fruit Exporters Association said that freezing temperatures throughout mid-September hit the country’s fruit growers with the coldest frost since 1929. Temperatures fell to an average of 19 degrees Fahrenheit for an average of seven hours in several of the Chile’s growing regions, contributing to a huge drop-off in fruit exports.
Chilean growers exported about 282 million boxes of fruit last year, and experts believe that exports will fall short of that by about 50 million boxes for this year. However, when production increases are taken into account, the total frost damage to fruit production could be closer to 60 million or 65 million boxes.
The wine industry was hit hard by the frost as well.
Estimates put the total damage to Chilean crops at $1 billion. Reuters reports that between 35 percent and 61 percent of stone fruit crops were damaged, 57 percent of almonds, 48 percent of kiwis and 20 percent of grapes. The U.S. imports about 42 percent of the country’s grapes.
“These frosts are the worst that agriculture has faced in 84 years, impacting the area from Coquimbo to Bio Bio,” the National Agricultural Society said.
Because of the lost production, fruit prices are expected to rise.
“All throughout November, December and January, prices of peaches, nectarines and plums will be higher because there will be shortages,” said Cristián Allendes, president of the Federation Fruit Producers. “There will be half the volume of a normal year, so it is impossible for them to cost the same.”
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared September 2013 to have tied with September 2003 as the fourth warmest on record. Global surface and oceanic temperatures were 1.15 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average for that month.
However, September also brought with it record levels of arctic sea-ice coverage — only six years after the BBC reported that global warming would leave eliminate arctic sea ice by 2013.
Antarctica also experienced record levels of sea ice in September, with 7.51 million square miles surrounding the continent. This beat out the previous sea-ice coverage record, set in 2012.
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