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Agricultural News


In the Middle of Drought- the Optimism of Harvest Seen in Central Chile by OALP Class XIX

Thu, 20 Feb 2020 02:47:30 CST

In the Middle of Drought- the Optimism of Harvest Seen in Central Chile by OALP Class XIX As the travels of Class Nineteen of the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program moved out of the capitol city of Santiago on Wednesday- the research the group had done on conditions in Chile was brought into sharp focus- parts of Chile have been in drought for an extended time and it showed as both a large commercial sized vineyard and a smaller family operated vineyard shared their worries about how dry it has been and how they will weather the dryness in the year ahead.


The large commercial vineyard and winery, Perez Cruz, showed evidence that irrigation water was in short supply in the downsizing of their hectares in grape production(just over 400 acres)- down about ten percent in the last year. That could be seen in one large field that they simply chose not to water and the withered, dead vines could be seen as the group drove through the grounds to the headquarters of their oepration. The dead vines stood in contrast to the fields that were ripe unto harvest- a harvest that was literally happening as OALP arrived in Chile.


Ana Maria De Galvardo with Perez Cruz told OALP members that the dryness was especially tough over the last year with limited snowfall in the Andes Mountains resulting in a much smaller than normal snowpack and little runoff to their location in the foothills of the vineyards.


Still, Perez Cruz has made their niche in the wine business, raising their own grapes, not bringing in grapes from other farms and then processing their harvest- having over a million liters of storage capcity on site and their own bottling operation. De Galvardo and Radio Oklahoma Farm Director Ron Hays talked about the drought and dry climate- the harvest season and the marketing of their end product into South America, Canada, England, Germany and to a limnited extent, the United States. You can hear that conversation by clicking on the Listen Bar below.


After Perez Cruz, the group traveled just a few miles to a smaller, more recently established vineyard of just five acres- Vinay 3, operated by the Barrientos family. The drought was more vividly seen as the group walked through their vines- badly in need of water- they predicted that they would likely have about a third of a normal crop because of lack of water. They too, pointed up to the Andes Mountains as the problem- and led the OALP class to a dry river bed on their property that had not seen a water flow for months.


Still, the smaller boutique operation had been able to establish a foothold and was selling their product to several restaurants in the region- and hoping for rainfall and mountain runoff in growing seasons to come to grow their operation. Their production of about 1,500 bottles per growing season was a literal drop in the barrel compared to the larger, more financially stable Perez Cruz- but their personal touch and story is one that small farm operations around the world hope will win them customers that will pay for that story.


The optimism of the Barrientos family was a reminder that farmers, not just in the US, but around the world, are by nature, are a glass half full and not half empty kind of people. It is lessons like this that make the OALP experience a one of a kind leadership development program.


The intertnational travel to Chile is the Capstone experience for the Class Nineteen Members of the Oklahoma Ag Leadership Program, a two year program that was established in 1982- based on a public-private partnership of Oklahoma State Univerxity and groups and indivisuals invovlved in agriclture. Over 500 graduates of the program have made a difference in rural life and production agriclture locally and nationally,


To learn more about the program- and to find our how you or someone you know can apply to be a part of Class XX- click or tap here.





   
   

Ron Hays talks with Ana Maria De Gavardo about grape harvest and more at Perez Cruz
right-click to download mp3

 

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