Strawberry crop in extreme climatic zones of Chilean Patagonia

M. Gambardella, E. Contreras, C. Gomà, J. Grez
Chile is one of the main fresh fruit producing countries in the southern hemisphere; however, the strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duchesne ex Rozier) cultivation area is small compared to that of other fruit species (approximately 2,000 ha year‑1). Strawberry production is concentrated in the central and south-central zones of the country. About one-third of the Chilean strawberry production is exported to other countries frozen (IQF, individual quick freezing), and the other two-thirds are destined to the local Chilean fresh market. This species is socially important, because it is a profitable alternative for small farmers. Due to the increase in temperatures and water supply problems in traditional areas in Chile, crops are moving to the south. The Aysén Region (Chilean Patagonia between 43°38R' and 49°16') have an intricate geography, with climates ranging from cold rainy to cold windy steppes and eternal glaciers, which generate isolation by land. It is a region with large areas of protected parks and low population density (108,328 inhabitants in 108,494 km2). Traditional agricultural activity has been sheep farming, but diversification toward more profitable crops is necessary. In addition, food for the local population must be improved, because of limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. In this context, strawberry production was recently introduced in the region. Sixteen experimental fields of 1,000 m2 were established in three representative areas: humid, intermediate and microclimate zones. The best production conditions for strawberries and other berries were studied. Open field and tunnel cultivation were performed using wind curtains. In both cases, a technical and economically viable production was demonstrated with 'Albión', 'Monterrey' and 'Cristal'. Although the yield was very low (15 t ha‑1), the high prices during late spring and in summer make the crop a very good alternative for this area. In the future, production and techniques will be improved and short-day cultivars will be introduced to concentrate and increase productivity.
Gambardella, M., Contreras, E., Gomà, C. and Grez, J. (2021). Strawberry crop in extreme climatic zones of Chilean Patagonia. Acta Hortic. 1309, 555-560
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1309.79
strawberry in Chile, Patagonian strawberry, family farming

Acta Horticulturae