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Massive earthquake northern Chile and tsunami warning west coast Latin America

No impact on fruit production expected
Massive earthquake northern Chile and tsunami warning west coast Latin America

The northern coast of Chile was struck by an earthquake on Tuesday evening at 20.45. It had a magnitude of 8.2 on the Richter scale. The earthquake took place in the sea, 95 kilometres northwest of the Chilean coastal city of Iquique. According to the Chilean Minister of the Interior, at least five people were killed and at least seven people have been seriously injured. Three hundred women escaped from a prison in Iquique, 26 of them are back behind bars. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, declared the regions Arica and Parinacota in the north of Chile disaster areas. She signed a decree that will include security being put under military rule.

Tsunami Warning
A tsunami warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre for the entire west coast of Latin America and part of Central America. Shortly after the quake the tsunami warning was withdrawn for some countries. Later it was also withdrawn for Peru and Chile. Several aftershocks occurred with a magnitude of 5.0 on the Richter scale.

Tidal wave
About 45 minutes after the quake the first wave reached the Chilean coast. The wave, about two meters high, hit the village of Pisagua, according to the Navy. The Tsunami Warning Centre reported that waves of up to 2.3 meters were reported off the coast of Chile. The exact extent of the damage caused by the earthquake and the waves is not known. It is thought that roads in some places will be impassable due to landslides.

The earthquake has had little effect on fruit production in the region. “The quake was about 100 kilometres northwest from Iquique and a good 1,000 kilometres north of the northernmost growing region of Chile (Copiapo). Moreover, in that area harvest has already taken place. We do not expect there to be any influence on our fruit season. Chile a strong country, and as such can handle a strong earthquake,” says Dutch importer Jan Marc Schulz of SFI Rotterdam. “I have not spoken directly to anyone, but this is my reasoning on the basis of the location and my experience.”

Daan van der Kooij of Jokofruit confirms this, “No fruit destined for Europe come from that area, it is more of a desert area in the interior. It could have more influence on southern ports in Peru, but that seems to be ok. Ports exporting fruit to Europe from Chile would Santiago and further south. The country is 4,400 km long and Santiago is halfway down.”

Dennis Bartels from Fruto del Campo said that he had spoken to a few Chileans and the damage was limited.”It seems to be an area where not many people live and there is little production. However, there are ports in the affected area, but they could say little about whether there really is damage caused from the earthquake.”

Andres Ramirez from Capespan said that according to his colleagues from Chile the earthquake is less severe than in 2010. There are some “movements” measured in the sea level, so there may be some parts of the coast hit. The central valleys of Ovalle, San Felipe, Santiago and southern parts didn’t even feel this earthquake. In terms of fruit, we expect little impact. Possibly there will be some delay in the supply of containers, since the ports will remain closed until the tsunami warning is repealed.”
Chile is located on what geologists call “the Pacific ring of fire”. The activity in the earth’s crust is particularly intense in this ring. In February 2010 the country was hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.8 on the Richter scale, followed by a tsunami. There were then more than 500 deaths.

Publication date: 4/2/2014

Problematic Northern weather hampered Florida product movement

Right now, the talk in Florida is about weather. The state’s fresh producers experienced a relatively mild winter, and crops in the Sunshine State are progressing with good growing conditions reported.

But the cloud’s silver lining did not come without some cost elsewhere in the nation. “One of the biggest challenges the industry has had is the bad weather in the North,” said Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association in Maitland, FL. FFVA-Mike-StuartMike StuartStuart said the unpredictable waves of ice, snow and rain made it difficult to move product in areas like Atlanta. The problems got progressively worse going north, he noted.

The logistics dilemma was something of a one-two punch. Stuart said there were some problems procuring trucks to move product into the Northern states. And trucks that were moving could not always get supplies to customers.

And the situation was just as dicey for consumers, who were hamstrung by weather and unable to get to the grocery store to stock up.

“We’re all thankful spring is coming,” he commented. “Product has been moving. But not as robustly as we’d like.”

With temperatures warming up, Stuart said pent-up consumer demand will be satisfied.

On the legislative front, Stuart said, “We’re in a holding pattern as far as immigration reform is concerned. It’s ground to a halt in the House. In the meantime, producers face a dramatic amount of uncertainty with their labor force.”

Eyeing the need to ensure an adequate number of workers, producers are expressing more interest in the H-2A temporary worker visa program. “It’s fraught with problems,” he continued. “It’s far from ideal. But we need reform. We need it badly.”

Stuart is gratified that Florida can now “control its own destiny” when it comes to clean water regulations. Last year, a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave the Florida Department of Environmental Protection the ability to implement rules for numeric nutrient criteria in state waters. Stuart said this was a major step forward, not just for agriculture but for the state as a whole.

Issues of water quantity are equally important. “Water quantity is very much an unknown,” he continued. According to Stuart, Florida has very little storage capacity and must rely on aquifers. “Areas in agricultural production move up and down,” he said of the dynamics involved with urban development. As urbanization continues to take hold in the coastal areas, Stuart said agricultural development has moved inland. “Thankfully, we have available land,” he stated.

One of the biggest hot-button issues in Florida is Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening disease. HLB is a bacterial disease that is not harmful to animals or human populations. But, as Stuart commented, it is fatal to citrus trees. HLB is spread by the Asian citrus psyllid.

“That’s a dark cloud over an iconic commodity in the state,” he said. Left unchecked, Stuart said, HLB will cause a significant decline in citrus production, and the industry’s very real future depends upon finding a solution.

Stuart said that, through the leadership and diligent efforts of Florida Citrus Mutual and other private organizations, research dollars were earmarked in the farm bill to find ways to combat HLB.

Florida’s agricultural producers continue to provide their input to the Food & Drug Administration regarding the Food Safety Modernization Act. “We have given the FDA significant feedback to make the rules helpful and not put an undue burden on producers,” he stated.

Stuart said the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, under the leadership of Commissioner Adam Putnam, has done an outstanding job promoting commodities through “Fresh From Florida.” The program significantly ramped up in the past several years. “We’re delighted with that,” he told The Produce News.

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Northern Colorado Floods Close Greeley Beef-Processing Plant

One of this country’s largest beef-processing plants, located in Greeley, CO, cancelled its first and second shifts today because of the flood disaster in Northern Colorado. Barb Walker, human resource supervisor for JBS USA, asked employees to stay safe by not coming into the plant that employs close to 5,000 workers.

The confluence of the South Platte and the Cache La Poudre rivers is immediately east of Greeley and not far from the JBS plant. Those rivers are draining the brunt of the five-day rain blast on Colorado’s Front Range, turning 14 counties into a disaster area.

More rain has fallen over those five days than the area normally gets in a year, damaging or destroying 19,000 homes and sending almost 12,000 people to evacuation centers.

The rampaging water has crushed state highways and bridges. Colorado Department of Transportation engineers say 30 state highway bridges have been destroyed and 20 damaged.

Floodwaters that first heavily damaged towns such as Lyons and Estes Park and the City of Boulder are pancaking across farmlands below the Rocky Mountains, stranding many of the estimated 60,000 dairy cows located near Greeley.

With beef, cheese, and other food-production facilities, Greeley itself has been an island in the storm, with all of its infrastructure remaining intact. However, road closures in all directions over the weekend made it impossible to get into the city and made travel to even nearby Fort Collins or Loveland a nightmare.

With power lost or sometimes intentionally shut off to evacuation areas, state health officials advised people returning to their homes to destroy food that likely spoiled during the flooding. FDA has posted information on how to keep food and water supplies safe during floods.

Food Safety News

Northern Fruit start up new UNITEC cherry sorting technologies

Northern Fruit start up new UNITEC cherry sorting technologies

Northern Fruit, one of Washington State’s most recognized cherry packers, started up 12 new lanes for red cherry cutting, sorting, quality selection and packing in Wenatchee. The new line processes about 9 tons/hour.

This innovative technology has been entirely designed and manufactured by UNITEC, an international group that provides state-of-the-art technologies in cherry grading and packing with 90 years of experience in the fruit and vegetable industry.

“The line started production on May,” said Northern Fruit owner Doug Pauly, talking about the new installation, “And this follows our 6 lane machine installed in 2012. Now every cherry packed at Northern is with UNITEC technology.”

The Northern Fruit cherry installation is comprised of an innovative UNITEC cluster cutter and a total of 18 lanes for sizing, color and defect selection.

“We are delighted with UNITEC’s sizing capability and control. The color separation allows us to deliver much higher consistency with checkerboard lots,” Doug Pauly continues, “The electronic defect removal is a significant help for staying in grade on high damage lots. The same is true with softness detection features.”

The new electronic cherry sorting system at Northern Fruit is equipped with CHERRY_VISION©, the innovative system that offers non-destructive detection of the external and internal quality of cherries. CHERRY_VISION© has changed the way cherries are graded thanks to automatic detection removing cullets, debris and undersize defects with high precision and reliability.

“When packing high damage lots the ability to remove a % of defects electronically has been a huge help,” Pauly adds, “We also believe the system’s softer transfers reduces line damage.”

“Both packing lines were designed, built and delivered on time. UNITEC’s experienced installation team had the lines fully ready to run when our first cherries arrived.  They are competent, efficient and good people to work with. UNITEC’s sales and design teams were extremely helpful in creating layouts to fit their machinery within our existing packing rooms,” Pauly comments.

He continues, “In my opinion UNITEC is the global leader in electronic cherry packing systems. Their team is making continual improvements to the technology. As reliable and appreciated partners for Northern Fruit, I highly recommend them.”

The success of UNITEC technologies is confirmed by more than 700 lanes already sold in over 23 countries worldwide (485 equipped with CHERRY_VISION©). 157 of these have been sold in US. 156 lanes, in the US, are equipped with CHERRY_VISION©.

A remarkable achievement reflective of the company’s experience, professionalism and reliability.

UNITEC has recently established the new subsidiary UNITEC USA with headquarter in STOCKTON (CA), to be closer to its American Customers and help them with its technologies and professionalism.

UNITEC USA is fully operational with after-sales service staff and a spare parts warehouse.

For further information:
Raffaele Benedetti
Tel: +39 0545 288884
Fax: +39 0545 288709
Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 7/16/2013

Northern Hemishere cherry season off to a slow but promising start

Northern Hemishere cherry season off to a slow but promising start

The Northern Hemisphere cherry season got off to a slow start in 2012 with cool weather across Southern Europe delaying the crops. The late start, coupled with some horrendous rain in various parts of Spain, Northern Italy, Germany & France have made it a challenge form the start.  

However, according to Jon Clark from Total Cherry, “We are now a few weeks into the season and it is now all catching up on itself with good quantities coming from Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and Spain. Overall the quality is good, especially from those established cherry growers and exporters who care for their fruit, all the UK and Northern Europe need now is some bright sunshine to help stimulate sales.”   

The Picota cherry, from the Valle de Jerte in Spain, has also had a late start to its campaign with fruit only just starting to appear which is 2 weeks later than normal, with a reduced crop values are higher than normal.  

The UK cherry is getting closer to its start date and the first fruit will be picked around July 4th, but volumes will be limited until around July 20th. “There is a good crop on the trees, which means the size will be down by 1-2mm from last year, with the slow growing season the expectations are for excellent quality fruit and also a late harvest, with fruit being picked in to September,” explains Clark.   

Across the the Atlantic, the growers in Washington state have had some rain showers to fight off as they begin their harvest, most of the fruit destined for the UK/Europe will not be picked for another month so there are no fears on quality of that fruit at this time. The crop volume is down from last year and the hopes for this year, which means they will benefit from larger fruit coming from the trees.

Total Cherry are pleased to be handling a new and exclusive cherry variety this Summer. The Orondo Ruby cherry is grown by the Griggs family on their farm near Wenatchee, Washington State and marketed by Total Cherry’s Washington partners, Chelan Fresh. The discovery of this unique cherry happened a few years ago when they noticed a tree in the orchard was producing a different cherry the rainier around it. The fruit was earlier, larger, high colour, and sweeter – but with a balanced background taste too. Hours of work and study went in to the tree to produce a commercial crop and deliver this exceptional cherry to the world.

For more information:
Jon Clark
Total Cherry
Tel: 0044 1775 717180
Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 7/1/2013
Author: Nichola Watson