Lemon Acreage Increasing in Chile

Josh McGillInternational, lemons

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service, lemon acreage planted in Chile grew from 5,911 hectares in 2016–17 to 8,038 hectares in 2021–22.

Photo by Vero Photoart on Unsplash

Since lemons are sensitive to low temperatures and frost, producers are in the central and northern regions of Chile, where temperatures are higher compared to the southern regions. Growers strategically plant citrus orchards on hillsides, where the risk of frost is lower than in the valley.

The centrally located Metropolitana region holds 41.1% of the lemon acreage planted, with a total of 3,303 hectares, making it the top lemon-producing region in Chile. Citrus has become an attractive and profitable option for fruit
producers in recent years. The O’Higgins region, south of the Metropolitana region, holds 12.2% of the planted area. Lemon area planted in the O’Higgins region grew 69.2% in the past three marketing years.

For the past 10 years, drought has impacted Chile, making it necessary to invest in irrigation infrastructure to produce lemons. Chilean producers use drip or micro-sprinkler irrigation to increase water efficiency and crop yields.

Chile produces lemons in the summer months between December and March for the domestic market and during the winter months between June and September for the export market.

Domestic lemon consumption peaks during the summer months. During this time, lemon prices are high due to tight supply, and producers sell all their fruit in the domestic market.

It is estimated that domestic consumption represents 52% of commercial production, and that the remaining 48% of commercial production is exported.

In 2020–21, Chile exported 101,996 metric tons (MT) of lemons to the world, a 5.6 percent increase over 2019–20. This growth in exports follows the increase in area planted and production.

The United States is the top market for Chilean lemons. In 2020–21, Chile exported 65,682 MT, which represented 64.4% of the export volume. Chile also exports lemons to Japan, China and South Korea.

See the full USDA report on Chile’s citrus industry here.

Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Lemon Acreage

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