Tuesday morning, January 14, 2014
Chilefarms is humming this morning... I'm sure there was activity that I missed - this is what I saw on a walkabout between 10 AM and noon.
Clearing the irrigation channel - Annual snow melt from the Andes Mountains to the east descends into the Aconcagua Valley from the Aconcagua River and is channeled into farmlands. Clearing the sides of the canal facilitates water flow when the water level in the canal rises.The Chilean Coastal Range, Cordillera de la Costa, runs parallel to the Andes to the west of Nogales. The Coastal Range affects the climate here, producing a rain shadow eastward in the Aconcagua Valley, which gets its water principally from the Aconcagua River. Chilefarms is a member of a cooperative utility that moderates canal conditions and water distribution to farms in this area. The men work for the utility and have been clearing miles of the canals in Nogales. Water distribution is a contentious issue between farmers in Nogales and San Felipe, who draw volumes of water upriver from here.
The export standards for oranges are stringent. Regular pruning of the trees, water management, and pest control are necessary to produce oranges of export quality. Although the farmers might like to grow organic oranges, the truth is, they will not make it to market.
Corn is picked and counted as it's chucked into the baskets then loaded into this truck. Corn is the second most important annual crop after wheat in Chile.
Trucks from two wholesalers harvest corn today. The men in the green truck are from Sgr. Pompino's business. Chliefarms farmhand Juan Villa supervises the counting as baskets are loaded into Pompino's truck.
The blue truck belongs to Juan. Chilefarms farmhand Don Pedro supervises the count into the truck. Loose corn is loaded then sacks are filled and loaded on top of the loose corn. By late this afternoon, it will be hauled to the wholesale market in Vina del Mar, on the Pacific coast just over the Chilean Coastal Range to the west.
The women, wife of a neighbor and her mother, cut and pile the dry corn stalks in a field harvested two weeks ago The stalks will be hauled away,chopped up and used by the woman's husband to feed goats, cows, and horses. Soon, the field will be burned then plowed under for the next planting. Nothing goes to waste here.
Don Pedro Biernays,who oversees the wholesaler's counting, lived on the property when Susan Straus and Ricardo Ceriani bought it in 1995. He slices watermelon for the neighbor's wife who's chopping corn stalks nearby. Don Pedro lowers his hand to knee level and points to her, signaling he's known here since she was a litle girl. "Secundo papa," he grins as she beams beside him. The two men from Sgr.Pompino's wholesale company share a laugh with me. I'm getting along with sign language and smiles.
Shortly after midday, trucks are loaded and ready to roll to Vina del Mar. Work on the farm halts around noon for dinner (almuerzo) then continues till late in the afternoon.