An alternative to Chandler: The other varieties of nuts that adapt well to Chile Monday, April 16, 2018
Luis Muñoz G. / El Mercurio Field Reportage The Mercury This group includes some cultivars of French origin, such as fernor and lara, and American, as tulare and those developed by the University of California.
Good quality and access to high demand markets have transformed nuts into one of the areas with the greatest potential in the country. This has pushed hard the increase in the surface of recent years, which went from around 23,000 hectares in 2012 to more than 35,000 in 2017. Of these, about 90% corresponds to chandler, a variety that thanks to its good adaptation and High yields are found from the Region of Coquimbo to La Araucanía. “It is a very good variety and thanks to the use of cyanamide can be produced almost anywhere, the best thing is that you can get up to 12 tons of nuts per hectare, so I think today has no competition in the country” , indicates Francisco García Huidobro, advisor in walnuts. While many support this theory, there are those who warn of the risks of continuing to plant indiscriminately chandler. In this path is the adviser Jean Paul Joublan, expert in walnuts, who emphasizes that the vertiginous growth that is experienced will necessarily lead to the industry must improve its infrastructure in the medium term to avoid facing any problems. “The increase in the plantations of this variety will lead to very concentrated harvests and, with this, problems can be generated when carrying out drying and other processes,” he says. Another risk that identifies is the phytosanitary. And is that being a variety of low vigor, chandler could be more exposed than others to pathogens that attack the walnuts as Deep Bark Canker, a disease of wood, caused by Erwinia rubrifaciens; and the bacterial canker of the walnut tree, which is generated from the attack of the Pseudomonas syringae, which although they are now found in other parts of the world, could appear at some point in the country. “In practice, if that were to happen, as has happened in other countries, Chile will not have varietal diversity to counteract any of these biotic problems in any good way,” says Jean Paul Joublan. Beyond the risks, there is also a strategic component. The sector has as one of its key objectives to continue growing on the surface, especially in the southern zone, where until a few years ago it was not feasible to install a walnut orchard. The problem is that there is less and less usable space, so there are fewer and fewer places available that have adequate productive conditions, at least for chandler. “For this reason, producers are increasingly facing more extreme soil and climate conditions, which makes it necessary to at least try other options,” he adds. In fact, for Jean Paul Joublan there are certain places in the regions of La Araucanía, Los Ríos and Los Lagos where, if new varieties are used and good management is used, they could become interesting production areas. THE EUROPEAN ALTERNATIVES Contrary to what may be thought, the development of new walnut varieties has been rather meager in recent times. In fact, the majority was developed several years ago. Despite this, there are some that, according to Jean Paul Joublan, could become a good alternative for Chilean producers. One of them is fernor, a variety developed in the 90s by the French INRA, which appears as a later alternative (it springs up about a month later) than chandler. Among its characteristics, its low sensitivity to diseases such as black plague and frost stands out, and it can be established without major problems in different places in the south of the country. Perhaps the great disadvantage shown by this variety, which has already been proven by Joublan and his team, is their low productivity (4,000-5,000 kg / ha), which in the opinion of the specialist takes away a lot of attractiveness. “In any case, in a plantation in the south, where production is always more difficult, a result of 5,000 kg / ha corresponds to a perfectly profitable project,” he warns. Another interesting alternative is lara, a variety that is currently one of the most planted in France (occupies about 40% of the surface) and that although not as productive as chandler (reaches 5.5-6.5 ton / ha), self-pollinates and produces fruits of good color and size. Similarly, it has low sensitivity to the black plague and matures rather than chandler, so that its harvest is away from potential rains and other climatic problems. “All this means that, in general, it reaches a very good price, in fact, in Italy it reaches a higher value than the chandler,” says Jean Paul Joublan. According to the expert, this variety, which could be good from Talca to the south, has an interesting potential because it has a high demand, especially in Europe. In addition, there are currently very few who produce it in contraestation. CALIFORNIA OPTIONS “What the Americans are looking for is to find a variety that springs up late like the chandler, but that is harvested early.These new varieties are supposed to go in that line, but from the commercial point of view they have not caught much,” Francisco García Huidobro. It refers to some varieties developed by the University of California, among which include forde, gillet, sexton and ivanhoe. Jean Paul Joublan indicates that forde is the most interesting variety of this group. In fact, it ensures that it achieves higher productivity and filling percentage than chandler (54% versus 49%), in addition to a very good color. However, it acknowledges that no serious tests have been carried out in the country to date, so there is no certainty of its behavior under real conditions. “I think that this variety, in theory, is an excellent option to replace serr in the north, which in general has a very low productive ceiling, if you consider the volumes that are being achieved in some orchards with chandler,” warns Jean Paul Joublan. THE GOOD RESULTS One of the varieties that has shown good results in the country, especially from the point of view of productivity, is the Tulare Californian, especially in the southern zone. “The main advantage is its productivity, on the fifth sheet, for example, we have managed to obtain 8.9 tons / ha,” warns Joublan. In addition, it highlights the fact that it is later in budding and earlier in harvest than Chandler. Despite this, Francisco García Huidobro emphasizes that this variety usually has problems to be mechanized and, often, delivers darker fruit than chandler, which could negatively influence its price. Joublan, meanwhile, maintains that he and his team have mechanized it without major inconveniences. Regarding the color of the nuts, he recognizes that it is a bit dark, especially in areas of high temperatures and radiation such as California, in the US, and the regions of Valparaíso and Metropolitana, in Chile. Anyway, he warns that this situation improves considerably from the O’Higgins Region to the south, where the percentage of light and extra light fruit that can be obtained increases a lot. “The last season, for example, tulare liquidations were between 15% and 20% higher than those of chandler under the same conditions, reaching US $ 2.8 per kilo of return to producer for fruit of the Maule Region “he adds. 90% OF THE HARVEST Chilean corresponds to the Chandler variety, which is planted between Coquimbo and La Araucanía. 54% FILLING versus 49% of chandler is achieved with the Californian forde variety. 8.9 TONS per hectare have been obtained with the tulare variety, from the United States. In the south, the fernor can give 5 thousand kilos per hectare, which in the area is positive.