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Argentina: the tomato harvest has started in the region of Valle Viejo

13/01/2021 - François-Xavier Branthôme - Lire en français
According to the Argentinian press, the processing tomato harvest had already started by mid-December in the region of Valle Viejo, where crops received support in the context of the Productive Plan for the Production of Tomatoes intended for the supply of local agro-industrial operators.
More specifically, the harvest is intended for the Camino company's processing plant, located in the same region.
The Tomato Plan was launched to promote local production in order to supply processors of the sector. To achieve this aim, it was decided to implement a few dozen hectares of processing tomatoes, which were planted in mid-August 2020. The harvest is starting at this very moment (17 December, editor's note), with all the benefits of efficient machine harvesting,” commented Ariel Acosta, representing the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

The Tomato Plan, developed by the Ministry of Investment and Development, is conducted through a state-owned company that delivers the plants to growers, who cultivate, harvest and sell their produce to the Camino company, which processes it in its factory for subsequent distribution, as it has its own registered trademark under the name Ídolo. This general scheme has been implemented for several other crops such as maize, and it aims to promote the production of raw materials on a regional scale for the supply of local industrial operators,” added the official.
The regional government's objective is to help local industries obtain raw materials from producers in the Catamarca region: “the objective […] is to tend towards self-sufficiency, so as not to bring in raw materials from other regions, thereby eliminating transport costs. The idea is also to mobilize the workforce from within the province.”

The program covers an area of 70 hectares, spread over different parts of the province. Fifty hectares are located in the central valley, including the forty hectares of Valle Viejo. “A further ten hectares are located in the region of Colonia del Valle, and the rest are near other towns of Capayán, as well as in the departments of Tinogasta, Pomán and El Alto,” concluded Ariel Acosta.

Argentina: expected yields should be 80 to 120 mT/ha
In other parts of Argentina, irrigation remains one of the critical issues for this sector. The rivers are low, due to the extreme drought currently affecting the region, and the prolonged use of groundwater wells makes access to water resources increasingly problematic.

This is what emerges from recent comments collected by the Argentinian press from local stakeholders (growers, professional advisers to processing companies, technicians from the Tomate 2000 association and agricultural service companies) in the San Juan region, and more precisely in Pocito.

Although official data has not been provided, local sources estimate the surface areas at around 2,500 hectares, perhaps even more, a figure that reflects “a recovery for this agro-industrial sector that is so important to the local economy.” Professionals insist on the care taken in soil preparation, on the massive and increasing use of mechanical transplanters, and on the benefits obtained from the use of a number of new inputs (such as granulated guano) and from the use of pressure irrigation, improved spray treatments and mechanical harvesting.

The choice of new fields that are cleaner, more rested and younger, particularly in the central region, should result in improved sanitary conditions and higher yields, according to the technicians. Although the harvest season is still in its beginning stages, expected yields for early varieties are between 80 mT and 120 mT per hectare, and could be higher for mid-cycle varieties, harvested from early January.
Harvesting in the San Juan region is now nearly 80% mechanized and only weather conditions can further influence the season's results. At the beginning of spring, some very strong and sometimes violent winds were recorded, and crops were affected by alternating days of very cold and cloudy weather with other days of very hot temperatures. Local operators have also reported the presence of fungal diseases that may impact yields, as well as the appearance of spider mites in an extremely dry environment in several areas.

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