Chile represents the 7th biggest producer of hazelnuts in the world
The European hazelnut can be considered one of the 3 most planted fruits in Chile, as well as cherries and nougat. AgriBrasilis interviewed Andres Reyes, technical assessor at Agroreyes, with large experience with European hazelnut.
AgriBrasilis – What is importance of hazelnut in Chilean agriculture?
Andre Reyes – The importance of the European hazelnut in the Chilean agriculture is the potentiality acquired by the crop along the last decade, due to the worldwide need of consuming hazelnut. That’s the reason why Chile has 3% of the world production. Today we have already achieved 32,000 planted hectares, a number that is going up exponentially year by year. In the next four years we expect to achieve 50,000 hectares.
In a national level, hazelnuts are considered one of the three most cultivated fruits in Chile, as well as cherries and nougat.
AgriBrasilis – What is the production destination?
Andre Reyes – Internally, the main destination of hazelnut production is Agrichile, a Ferrero’s Branch in Chile.
Agrichile takes charge of receiving the nut with its peel and carrying out the processing to be exported to Italy, and transformed in several other products, most of them focused on confectionery and in minor scale, snacks.
With the increase of the planted area, there are some local exporters, focused mostly to the European market and with a bigger offer, it is estimated a more interest in expanding this type of trading.
AgriBrasilis – How is the hazelnut handled? What is the production cost and profitability?
Andre Reyes – Since the beginning, hazelnut was considered like a rustic crop, that doesn’t need too many care and treatments, but in the last few years, through a lot of studies, experiments and evaluations, we could find out there are some specific conditions and treatments to improve farming, consequently, our production, such as proper irrigation, fertilizers, light, hours of cold, weed control, and pest and disease management.
With a production of 3,500 kilograms/hectare, the production cost of hazelnut is one dollar per hectare of produced fruit. We estimate that during the next ten years the price of hazelnut will be up to 3 dollars per produced kilogram, this means we can achieve a profitability about 7,000 dollars per hectare.
AgriBrasilis – What can be expected in terms of yield and planted area?
Andre Reyes – In the productive area, it’s important to stand out that during the last years, Chile has been updating constantly about the technical information that are about hazelnut, along with this, planting orchards as planting structures. Currently there are orchards planted with normal density (633 plants/hectare) and with high density (933 plants/hectare) achieving a differential yield of 1,000 kg/hectare, from the sixth year, and an accumulated differential yield about 4,000 kg/ha.
In Chile, with a planting rate of 3,000 to 4,000 hectares of annual growth, we estimate reaching an area of 50,000 hectares soon, having Chile one of the 5 main countries producers of hazelnut.