Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 5: Touring Fruit exporter & Monsanto facilities in Chile

February 14th, 2014

We departed from Vina Del Mar at 8:15 am and traveled roughly 2 ½ hours to a Monsanto site south of Santiago near the city of Paine. We traveled through the valley of Casa Blanca where popular white grapes are grown. Most of the agriculture along the trip included vineyards, but it we found corn, vegetable, and fruit production as we travelled south of Santiago.

Monsanto Corn Seed Production Tour at Paine:

The staff at the Monsanto site, led by Site Manager Matias Navarrete, provided an informational tour of their site and activities. The plant was initially built in 1997 with several expansions through 2010. They produce seed corn at the location, but also produce small amounts of soybean and canola seed. The seed is produced for use on farms throughout the United States. Their production area ranges about 400 kilometers from north to south around Paine. They produce seed on 6500 hectares (16,000 acres) within their production area

Monsanto staff provided a one hour tour that included a brief presentation and a walking tour of the plant facilities. The key areas viewed were corn receiving, corn husking, drying bins, shelling/cleaning, and bagging for export. Corn is received on the ear with husks. Following husking and hand sorting, the ears are dried on the cob at temps around 95-105 degrees Fahrenheit in two directions to ensure quality. Bulk shelled corn is exported to the United States for final processing before farmers plant the seed this spring. They took great care in ensuring quality and safety measures were taken every step of the way.

Monsanto provided lunch at the Bavaria restaurant nearby. We enjoyed cuisine of German heritage, including blood sausage. The food was excellent and appreciated by the class.
Monsanto Paine Chile - entrance

Explanation of How Seed Corn is Produced for use in the US

Demonstration of where corn is delivered to the plant


Tour of the bins used to dry the seed corn.

Copefrut Fruit Production Plant at Curico:

Our class was led on a tour of Copefrut by plant managers Carlos and Daniella. The Copefrut company started in 1955 as a cooperative of growers. Changes in Chilean government caused a change in the business to a grower owned corporation. Copefrut employs 240 full time employees and 3,000 seasonal employees. They produce cherries, apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums, and kiwi at five locations surrounding Curico.
Automatic size & color sorting of apples
Safety and worker comfort is a priority at Copefrut. They have a large professional business that provides excellent quality products. We toured the location by starting where growers deliver fruit through the entire process of packaged fruit. They were processing Gala apples during our visit that are 100% hand harvested. They showed how they conduct atmospheric storage, which utilizes nitrous oxide and 30-32 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures to extend the quality of fruit. Three weeks ago they shipped the last load of fruit from the 2013 production year to Columbia.
Hand sorting of apples at Copefrut
The Dogs of Chile:
We noticed many stray dogs during our city tours of Santiago, Valparasio, and Vina Del Mar. Dogs are allowed to roam freely and many have a way of walking with us during our travels. We have had fun noticing the many areas where they can be found and the variety of dog breeds.

Submitted by Joe Schefers