Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 12

Day 12   January 15, 2008


     We had a great cup of coffee to start the day, espresso from Café Calvi, the best on the trip so far.  At 9am Ariel Salinas and Daniela Galigniana picked us up at the Hostal del Sol for a wonderful journey through five orchards and their packing house.  The first stop was the peach packing at Dos Gallos wh ere we saw some beautiful peaches that had been presold to Brazil.  This is an older packing line, the fruit put into 19 Kilo wooden boxes.  The fruit was size 80 or larger, pretty hard so as to still be good when it gets to Brazil.  It was over 100 degrees today, so trucking the fruit over 1500 Kilometers to Brazil means it will ripen on route.

     This family business began in 1985 when Sr. Galigniana let his brother take over the family agro-chemical sales business and he branched off into fruit growing.  It looks like he made a good decision.  They now own over 500 Hectares or over 1,000 acres of fruit and a packing house.  This year they will pack over 475,000 boxes of fruit.  Their speciality is peaches and they grow many varieties.  But they also grow cherries, Gala and Red Chief Apples and a huge manifest of Williams (Bartlett) pears, anjous and Packham's Triumph.  Today they are picking peaches and we went to the five orchards, about 30 K apart, to watch crews picking into 400 lb bins.  They pick pears into 1200 lb bins but the pears are not quite ready, another 6 or 7 days before they begin. 

     Hail was a problem this year and they have spent a lot to create hail nets over many Hectares of peaches.  In the uncovered areas the damage is substantial and they will sell those for pulp, juice or peach halves for canning.  Their fresh peaches are selling for $15 US per 19 Kilo box and they are happy, making a good profit.  Pears are less valuable, they have vast pear orchards, and they will be selling Bartletts for $13 per 19 K box beginning next week.  That should have a bad impact on our US pear prices as they do have good quality fruit and lots and lots of it. 

     We walked through a new block of 50 Hectares of Bartletts that they planted on a 1 meter by 4.5 meter planting.  About 500 trees per acre.  The trees are only six months old and have grown at least 36 inches.  Good deep soil and plenty of irrigation water.  In fact we can see Mount Tupungato, over 20,000 feet high towers over us.  We took a great photos of that mountain with Malbec grapes in the foreground.  It is beautiful, but fails to show that 80% of the grapes had been ruined in the hail.  They have had hail twice in the last ten years, so it is a real risk here.  But they produce 55 tons per Hectare of pears, so if they miss the hail it is very productive.

     At lunch they took us to the Posada de Jamon (the House of Ham) in the Raices del Valle (roots of the valley).  The most famous restaurant in the valley, they specialize in pork products.  It was delicious.  We were joined by Sr. Galigniana and he told us he had been to Wenatchee twice, in 1992 and 1996.  He said it was the most beautiful valley he knew.  He was being polite, this valley is at least as beautiful.  We talked orchard business for several hours and he told us of meeting Kyle Mathison (the man with the long pony tail) who was touring on his motorcycle.  A wonderful day with warm and friendly people, we hope to come here again.  Enjoy the photos of this marvelous, rich and productive land.


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