Cherry Tech: First cherry technical event brought together the entire Chilean production chain

With more than a thousand attendees, the first edition of Cherry Tech was held in the conference room of the Monticello casino, yesterday, June 29. 

The event, organized by Yentzen Group and SmartCherry, was focused on technical aspects of the Chilean cherry industry and covered nutrition, varieties and post-harvest topics.

In three forums with panelists and three “masterclasses”, leaders, technical advisors and specialists in cherry production including Carlos Tapia, Jordi Casas, Walter Masman and Oscar Aliaga, among others, shared their analysis on the current and future state of the industry. national cherry factory. 

Chile, the main cherry exporting country in the world, is in an “advanced position” in the industry, commented the President of the Yentzen Group, Gustavo Yentzen during the opening of the event.

“The focus of this sector has always been on export development and this seminar involves topics that seek to advance a quality product and therefore greater development of the sector,” said Claudia Soler, executive director of the ASOEX Cherry Committee. 

“The future development of new technologies will help us consolidate and maintain Chile’s leadership as the main exporter of cherries in the world,” Soler added.

The challenge of producing cherries

The first masterclass was presented by Carlos Tapia, specialist advisor in cherry tree production, founder and technical director of Avium and co-founder of SmartCherry. 

“Those of us who are dedicated to the world of cherries, including producers and exporters, have a permanent challenge that is the search for productive potential, which is influenced by factors that we do not control such as the weather and other contingencies that must be considered to make good decisions. decisions,” Tapia said. 

According to Tapia, and according to the data, there is a pattern in terms of production volumes that shows that for every year of growth, there are two years of decline. This variability would indicate that this would be a high year, that is, with greater productivity than the previous season.

For Walter Masman, technical advisor and consultant, specialist in stone and cherry production, the competitiveness that has been generated in the market today, not only from a production point of view, but also from genetic programs, “forces producers and developers to produce a product of the highest quality that meets the demands of the market.” 

Postharvest and fruit quality

In the forum “Postharvest: Key points and management experience to avoid fruit deterioration” brought together the postharvest advisor of the Trío Kimün company, Jéssica Rodríguez, Sebastián Johnson, Johnson industrial project manager, Héctor García, co-founder and general manager of Laboratorios Diagnofruit and Juan Puntí, production and postharvest manager of the exporter Prize. 

The panelists were moderated by the international fruit tree consultant and technical director of Caducos, Jordi Casas.

“Everything starts from soil preparation, nutrient support, phytosanitary control, having balanced trees with agronomic management, with good thinning and pruning, to regulate loads and their distribution, is essential to have a good post-harvest,” Juan Puntí emphasized during the conversation.

The production and post-harvest manager adds that if the aforementioned is not done well and, with the current increases in volumes that are being handled for export, there is a risk of losing all the work and investment. 

Added to this, there is a need to have adequate logistics so that there is no detriment to the fruit.

Meanwhile, Jéssica Rodríguez pointed out that the management of post-harvest orchards is relevant to have premium quality fruits, the pursuit of this objective guarantees that the consumer repeats their purchasing process.

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He adds that currently there is a range of varieties that meet this quality, where there are good characteristics of firmness, brix, size, flavor, sweetness, acidity and the ideal is that all fruits maintain them.

“However, there are hidden parameters, we do not see them, such as mechanical damage, which can be seen 10 days later. This not only complicates things for the consumer but also for those who buy in the destination market. Arriving with quality means reaching the market without rot,” adds Rodríguez.

The post-harvest advisor of the Trío Kimün company explains that the Lapins cherry variety, this season, rose one step compared to Regina, in relation to browning.

But he also points out that Regina “is a tremendous variety, in terms of firmness, it is even, good sugar, acidity, it develops almost no mechanical damage, it is resistant to splitting, it has good attributes. Its weakness is in internal browning. They pay less for Lapins in China, it is easy to calibrate, it is a good variety, in recent seasons it has achieved good caliber, brix and its weakness is that it is on the borderline of firmness.

Also present at the conversation panel was Sebastián Johnson, manager of Johnson industrial projects, who referred to the importance of planning work and harvest time.

“When you visit the cherry fields you see very different realities and people too, in some they work very well, but in others very badly, with many ways of doing things, and when it comes to evaluating the post-harvest it is full of qualifiers, but there are no indicators, work design or planning, it is necessary to take care of the processes because the cherry does not take care of itself.”

Johnson reflected by saying that all damage is measured in the post-harvest in a unit of time, not with words. For this, the design of the humidity chain is fundamental and humidification systems to avoid dehydration of the fruit play a crucial role.

Finally, Héctor García, co-founder and general manager of Laboratorios Diagnofruit, explained that the control of pathogens in production is essential and that 70% of what is built is in the orchard, which is why it is essential that pre- and post-harvest equipment be maintained. in constant conversation.

Consider mapping the garden as a strategy to be taken into account by producers. This would allow us to have a kind of medical history with information to observe management over time, in order to know if the preventive work is working or not.

When we think about quality fruit and analyze the post-harvest of the cherry, we are probably going to stop to analyze critical points, such as reduction of times between harvest and processing, cooling procedures and maintenance close to 0ºC.

However, avoiding contamination of water with phytopathogens through the incorporation of sanitation systems and the application of fungicides on the fruit, so that fungi do not attack us in the storage process, are also key aspects to guarantee a good trip. and final sale.

“In packaging, for example, we hope not to re-contaminate, but we cannot expect to disinfect the fruit there either,” says García and is reaffirmed by Juan Puntí, “the fungicide in the line does not replace a fungicide that has been placed in the garden, it is only to protect the box.”

Check out some of the main moments of this meeting here.