The Betarranga peach is a local variety found in peasant farms that stands out for its fleshy fruit the color of beetroot. It is a fruit that is easily pitted and can be eaten fresh, made into jams, canned and processed into juice. It is medium to large in size and, in comparison to other varieties, its skin is characterized by a greater presence of white surface fuzz. There are no orchards specifically planted with only this variety. It is locally adapted to withstand dry conditions and can reach maturity with minimal watering needs. Fruit production begins in the month of February through the end of March in areas with microclimate conditions like the Nagche territory. At present there are very few plants, but fruit production per tree can reach 60 kg per year. The reproduction is mainly via seeds, through the pits that are saved during harvest and are treated with sand in order to break the dormancy. These are grown in small nurseries in family owned rural orchards. Most growers of the Beterranga peach are found in the Araucania region (Region IX) in southern central Chile, and spread even to Region VIII of Bío Bío. The peaches can be found for sale in local fairs when in season, but the majority of the crop is grown for family consumption. Farms that still grow multiple varieties of fruit are increasingly rare, and are being abandoned due to the lack of technical assistance. Technical counsel in the area is based around production instead of preserving biodiversity. In addition, effects of extreme drought and frost in recent years have accelerated the disappearance of this variety that has been strongly connected with the local identity.
Image: Anabella Grunfeld