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Italy: Strawberry cultivation in Europe – current varieties and new selections

Italy: Strawberry cultivation in Europe – current varieties and new selections

A technical meeting was held on the importance of strawberry cultivation in Europe and on new interesting varieties for the domestic and European market on 18th June 2013 at the CReSo (Centro Ricerche per la Frutticoltura) located in Boves (Piedmont).

The event was organised by Cristiano Carli and Roberto Giordano, research managers from Creso. Roberto Giordano and Dr. Walther Faedi from Folrì’s CRA-FRF have talked about the strong and weak points of each of the varieties that are cultivated and available on the market.

Walther Faedi, national coordinator of the ‘Liste varietali dei Fruttiferi’ project, listed the main characteristics and tendencies in the main countries that produce strawberries i.e. Turkey, Spain, Poland, Germany, Italy, England, Holland and Netherlands.

Some of the data:

TURKEY Increase of cultivated surfaces but there are a few problems as regards distribution because of the difficulties in transportation. The production period is very long, from December to June.
SPAIN Decrease in surface areas but increase of production. Long production period, from December to June. Camarosa is the most popular variety even though Candonga is also gaining a following thanks to its organoleptic qualities.
POLAND The technique is being specialised and competitive producer cooperatives are being created. The production is mainly destined to the fresh market, leaving only a small part to the industry. Labour costs are really low: €2.5/h.
GERMANY Open field crops are the most popular. Expanded in the past few years, pressurising markets and lowering prices. Strong competitor for Italy. Elsanta and Clery are the main varieties. Remontat cultivars are increasing.
In 2012, there were 3700 hectares of strawberry crops (-20% with respect to 2000), 40% of which in the North (Veneto, Emilia Romagna, Trentino and Piedmont). The Italian production can satisfy the demand coming from the domestic market the whole year round. Produce from Sicily and Calabria arrives on the markets from January to March, that from Campania and Basilicata from April/May and overlaps with that from the North (Verona and Emilia Romagna. Summer is covered by the mountain areas and Sicily covers late autumn.

Dr. Faedi then explained the new varieties in the different Italian regions: “In the South, a number of different varieties is being evaluated, such as for example Rania, Nabila, Pircinque and Kamila from Italy, Sabrina, Fuentepina, Antilla and Primoris from Spain and Splendor, Florida-Fortuna, Mojave and Benicia from America. In the North, Italian Cristina, Romina, Garda, Alina, Dely and Joly are being considered.”

Finally, DR. Faedi analysed some varieties more in detail, such as VR177.2, as the fruit represent a good compromise between weight, compactness, Brix level (sugar content), aroma and shelf-life.

Click here to enlarge the chart.

Dr. Roberto Lombardo also talked about the varieties and the selections currently being experimented at the CreSo. Primy (medium-early), Garda (medium-early), Joly (medium-late) and Laetitia (late) were the varieties included in the extensive experimentation under the 2013 Fragola Unifera programme.

Dr. Lombardo explained how, “Garda has a good productivity, the fruit is cuneiform, with a good weight, the flesh is compact and tastes good, it is important though to verify the colour. Primy has a good productivity, with a good weight; fruits are conical with a flat tip and the colour is deep red, which must be checked with high temperatures; the taste is balanced though the resistance of fruits to handling has to be analysed. Joly has an excellent sweet and aromatic taste, the colour is bright red, which turns to deep red with high temperatures, the flesh is quite compact, the productivity is average and it is easily detachable. Laetitia is conical, with good weight, it resists to handling, the colour is bright red and the taste is good and sweet.”

Once the presentation was over, it was possible to taste the different varieties of strawberries, both those registered and those experimented.

Publication date: 6/25/2013

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Rising demand for herbal medicine can increase cultivation of medicinal trees

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Traditional medicine is practiced in in many rural areas in the developing world. The World Health Organization estimates that about 80% of Africans rely on traditional medicine, a great proportion of which is herbal, to meet their health needs and this could increase because of the rising acceptability of natural therapies.

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Muriuki and co-authors set out to learn where medicinal plant traders in Kenya sourced their raw materials and to determine if formalization of the market could provide more opportunities for cultivation.

“Cultivation would not only provide a sustainable supply of medicinal products but also increase the incomes of poor smallholder farmers while addressing current problems of over-harvesting and resource degradation which have reduced the abundance of wild materials.”

Their research revealed that 49 per cent of traders in herbal medicine sourced materials from farms and the demand was rising. However, 69 per cent of traders expressed a preference for materials sourced from the wild mainly because they perceived these plants would have higher potency than farm-grown material. Such perception is based on the expectation that wild plants will have grown to full maturity and in rich soils with less interference from human activities such as chemical application.

Those who preferred farm-sourced material said this was because of expected higher quality from good crop husbandry, increasing scarcity in the wild, and for some, a deliberate choice to conserve wild resources.

“While these types of formal enterprise are fairly recent in Kenya, we found that they are all experiencing annual growth and demanding more uniform raw materials which cultivation can provide,” says Muriuki.

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To improve the market in traditional medicines, the study recommends linking traders to farmers in the form of grower groups, especially women, which could initially focus on the most traded species as alternative crops are recommended.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

“Own cultivation and partnerships are important and will be even more so in the future.”

Interview with Levarht’s CEO Frank Pijpers and commercial manager Claas van Os
“Own cultivation and partnerships are important and will be even more so in the future.”

In this second part of the interview with Levarht’s CEO Frank Pijpers and commercial manager Claas van Os and their vision on the Dutch horticulture and their own company.

You have to work very efficiently. Does this mean that you cut out suppliers?
Frank: “It’s all about the relationship. All partners need to be able to make their money. If you think you have to be on the front row to make money, you will lose your relations and sources. You need calm on the back row to serve the customers on the front row. Are we sharp buyers? Yes, but you have to be in our market.”
Claas: “Because we already take as many activities as possible to the grower’s company, like packaging, it not only creates calm in the chain, but it is also an extra source of income for the grower. And in the end the growers have to make money too.”

Where is Levarht’s growth?
Frank: “Everywhere really. But we have had extensive growth in Mexico in recent years. We are going to see how we can grow in width by adding products to the assortment.”

How many hectares do you have in Mexico now?
Frank: “We have 7.5 hectares of greenhouse cultivation of our own. But the fact that we are there is an advantage. We are a pioneer in this field and we are the first to put down ‘full-tech’ Dutch greenhouses. We also found local growers who wanted to collaborate with us very quickly and who assist in cultivation, sorting and packaging. So we have 7.5 hectares of our own cultivation with which we have an exemplary role, but we also market a far bigger area.”

What area is this?
Frank: “The 60 to 65 hectares of peppers and the hectares of tomatoes needed.”
Claas: “We are really very market and customer focused. From this vision you end up pulling the cultivation towards you. Some growers may be a little reserved. But there are a lot of growers, not just in Holland, who would love to participate in this.”

Is the marketing done from Mexico too?
Frank: “No, it’s done from Holland. But that doesn’t mean we’re not looking at how long we can keep doing that for. Maybe we shouldn’t wait until it’s too late, but just do it and move to America. We try to remain open to change. It’s not like everything has to be organised from Aalsmeer.”

You were one of the first in New Zealand and are in Mexico too. What do you think of China?
Frank: “It’s a very big market and you can see that European retailers are locating there. But they run into two big problems there: food safety and the distribution network. We are trying to see what we could do there, but at the moment we don’t have any concrete plans. We only import from there.”
Claas: “It’s a growing market. And it’s not just China, it’s South East Asia too. What I think is good about Levarht is that we are a very ambitious and opportunistic company, but do everything step by step. We really want to offer added value to the local retail. That need is there.”

Is local to local a threat to Dutch cultivation?
Claas: “Yes, and what continues to surprise me is that with our fantastic product, high-tech and name, there is hardly a Dutch flag to be found in the supermarket. It’s a different story abroad. Every tomato grown in Scandinavia or England means one less tomato from Holland going there. I think that the Dutch product should be promoted more. We’re missing out on that pride.”

How do you view the Dutch horticulture?

Claas: “I think it’s about time we started becoming more market orientated. This is where the crux is. And you can only do this if you are able to talk to the growers and the retailers but you have to be open to it. If you hold onto that, I believe that we have the best product. Here in Holland we are also very good at distributing. it is only in the area of marketing and innovation that we are too driven by supply rather than market. The fact that we don’t have little Dutch flags, shows that there isn’t enough pride in what we do, and that we can’t create that. Compare it to the Danes. A Dane is proud to be eating their own product and will pay well for it. It is really a growing focused in the market and being brave enough to sit down and talk to each other. The fact that we already generate half of our turnover this way just shows that we are on the right track.”

What is your strength?
Claas: “We stick to our year round philosophy and make sure that we keep the chain as short as possible and as smart as possible. Partnership and trust are key to this.”
Frank: “We also have a strong and professional team of people, who look around themselves. We also have open communication as a company and are open to many ideas and opportunities.”

What is the biggest threat to your company?
Frank: “Occurrences like the EHEC crisis. These are things that happen and then you realise that no one is prepared for it and everyone panics. And you’re just standing there watching and there’s nothing you can do.”
Claas: “And then there’s the politics. Just look at the phytosanitary limitations in a country like Russia. I think that’s a big threat. The increasing local production is also a threat for various areas. But you can anticipate that, and make it a opportunity. Especially in overseas areas. I only see opportunity there.”

What will Levarht look like in twenty years? Will the company have world wide production areas and sales offices?
Frank: “Yes, besides Mexico, Costa Rica and New Zealand we will undoubtedly be active in other markets. We have been around for eighty years now and I know one thing for sure: we will be celebrating our centenary in twenty years. And we will do it by adding product and supplying all year round to attract new customers.”
Claas: “Our own cultivation and partnerships are very important to us and will become even more so in the future. We want to take another step in this area. We are also still the greenhouse vegetable company to many customers, so we have a lot of work to do on this front. Because besides Dutch greenhouse vegetables we have a number of strong overseas importing lines and own production areas. Retail is also going to play an increasingly important role. But we are already working on this and that means we are headed towards a bright future. I know we are!”

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Publication date: 12/20/2013

Local growers provide Tommies cultivation in Mexico and US

Jos van Mil: “Snack concept in America is still in its infancy”
Local growers provide Tommies cultivation in Mexico and US

Last year, ‘Tommies’ won the PMA Impact Award which has not been bad for business for the Dutch snack vegetable grower. Meanwhile Tommies are now available at Walmart stores and there has been demand to fill the various DC’s nationwide. “The biggest challenge we face is ensuring that the volume meets our high standard of quality and taste. We wish to expand the brand but also guard it,” explained Jos van Mil.

During the PMA in New Orleans last weekend, growers of Tommies brought along some of their new products in a golden case. ”You might see us back next year as a nomination in the Innovation Award. Reactions have been positive. The snack concept is still in its infancy in America and the Tommies are here at just the right moment for the market. Competition is not as big as in The Netherlands, but even here you have to show that you continue to innovate because there are big players in America who also play on the snack market. You need to continually prove yourself on the shop floor which is also a reason Walmart wish to continue with us,” said the grower.

“A snack concept, such as that we have developed for the market in cooperation with The Greenery, you would not have seen a couple of years ago. In the USA we also have the possibility to sell the vegetable snack with the Tommies clown, whereas in the United Kingdom there is no possibility for own labels and only private labels are used. In Germany there is still that possibility. With Tommies, and Fred & Ed we have the possibility to build on our reputation. We had developed the Disney concept with three different exporters but for some reason or another children did not connect vegetables and fruit with Disney. With our clown we have seen that we can position our items as real snack product for children.”

Until a few years ago, Greenco growers exported their product from The Netherlands to the United States. Two years ago different growers in Mexico and the US farmed on a contract basis for Tommies. “People regularly go from Greenco to Mexico to inspect the taste and quality of the Tommies grown. In Mexico, growing for a Dutch grower is also a new phenomenon, but with the high tech greenhouses they have the instruments to make great music, as long as you have a great conductor. However we are sitting on top. We acknowledge that we have a brand which we have built up, but in a couple of weeks can be devalued.”

“The good climate in the right parts of Mexico ensure good temperatures and lots of light. These conditions are great for tomato flavour and we can grow, year round, a tomato with a brix of 8-10. The light intensity even in a Mexican winter is better than the summer months in The Netherlands, and that is great for the flavour.” Jos continued ”in the US it is also increasingly important to grow locally so that is also a reason to work with American growers. Mexican products stay in Mexican America, just like in The Netherlands we have Spanish product. As long as your product tastes great, the country of origin is less important.”

Publication date: 10/24/2013

Pomegranate cultivation continues expanding all over the world

Mollar pomegranate season kicks off in Spain
Pomegranate cultivation continues expanding all over the world

This week, Valencian pomegranates passed the baton to Mollar pomegranates, the most valued by customers because of its organoleptic qualities, especially its sweetness and aroma, which make it ideal both for fresh consumption and processing.

According to Andrés Irles, president of the Cambayas cooperative, from Elche, Spain, the Valencian pomegranate season has developed normally, with the great advantage of not having to compete against pomegranates from other origins, which are now starting to appear. “This week, the market is already starting to feel the entrance of Moroccan and Turkish pomegranates of the Wonderful variety.”

The quality this year is good, although the weather has delayed its ripening by around 10 days. Additionally, even though expectations are always good for the entry into the market of Mollar pomegranates, “It has yet to be seen how competition will affect us, as this fruit’s production has been rapidly growing over the past five years on a global scale. After all, it is a product that offers reasonably high returns,” explains Andrés Irles.

The goal in the short term for Alicante’s producers is to obtain a Protected Designation of Origin for the Mollar variety. Last Friday, the Valencian Council of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Water announced the main parameters that should regulate the production for the said PDO.

It is worth noting that pomegranate cultivation in the Region of Valencia represents about 95% of Spain’s total, which corresponds to around 40,000 tonnes produced in a little over 2,100 hectares.

Mollar pomegranates reach all EU countries, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia, where 50% of the Spanish pomegranate production was shipped last season.

Moreover, given the increase in the demand for organics, Cambayas continues increasing its production of organic pomegranates under the brand BioCambayas, of which around 500 tonnes are already produced.

More information:
Andrés Irles Ibarra
T +34966637588
[email protected]

Publication date: 10/14/2013

Flame cultivation promising as weed control method for cranberry

Sep. 16, 2013 — Cranberries are important agricultural commodities in states such as Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Washington, and Oregon. But cranberry-growing operations are challenged by weeds, which compete for precious resources and often decrease fruit yields and revenues. Producers currently rely on weed management strategies such as flooding and sanding cranberry beds, hand-weeding, or applications of pre- and postemergence herbicides. Recent interest in reducing chemical inputs into cranberry growing systems has led researchers to evaluate alternative methods such as flame cultivation as a potential nonchemical weed control option.

University of Massachusetts scientists Katherine Ghantous, Hilary Sandler, Wesley Autio, and Peter Jeranyama designed a study using flame cultivation techniques for weed control in cranberry crops. The results, published in the July 2013 issue of HortScience, showed promise for integrating the weed control technique into “certain situations,” including organic farming. The team tested three types of handheld propane torches (one open flame and two styles of infrared torches) and varying exposure times on several species of perennial weeds. “We thought that flame cultivation would cause damage to cranberry plants and that damage would increase with increasing exposure duration and vary by flame cultivator tool used,” noted Hillary Sandler, the study’s corresponding author. Surprisingly, although the results showed minor response differences between the cranberry varieties tested, all varieties showed recovery from flame cultivation (FC) damage, irrespective of which tool was used or the duration of exposure.

“Our economic analysis showed that the time and cost of using an open flame torch for spot control of weeds was similar to that of the common practice of using a wick applicator to apply glyphosate to weeds,” the researchers noted. “In addition to being as cost-effective as glyphosate wipes, the non-fatal response to flame control indicates that it will cause less damage to cranberry plants that are incidentally exposed during spot treatment of weeds than glyphosate.”

The experiments determined that flame cultivation could be integrated as a sustainable and economical approach for weed control in some situations. “This technology could be applicable for conventional production as well as organic production, and would ideally be used as a spot treatment for weeds growing in the cranb

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Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Katherine M. Ghantous and Hilary A. Sandler1 University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, UMass Cranberry Station, 1 State Bog Road, P.O. Box 569, East Wareham, MA 02538 Wesley R. Autio Stockbridge School of Agriculture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003 Peter Jeranyama. Damage and Recovery of Cranberry Vines from Exposure to Handheld Flame Cultivators. HortScience, 2013 [link]

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Greece is booming – investing in new varieties and cultivation techniques

Greece is booming – investing in new varieties and cultivation techniques

That is a fact – the innovative fresh produce sector in Greece is investing in new varieties and cultivation techniques. Table grapes are currently in focus, with quality products being shipped to key markets such as the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.

“The financial crisis in Greece challenges the country’s producers to continuously search for new quality markets,” explains Zisis Manossis from grape marketing company Zeus Kiwi S.A., ”Grape cultivation is booming and growers expect good results.”

Greek fruit and vegetable growers are looking forward to good results at Fruit Logistica 2014. “The interest in the world’s leading trade fair for the fresh produce business continues unabated. With the official registration deadline for exhibitors just two weeks away (31 July 2013), there is a strong demand for exhibition space from companies across the globe,” Gérald Lamusse, Fruit Logistica Global Brand Manager explains.

“Based on current registration levels, we expect more than 2,500 exhibitors from 80 countries to showcase products and services from across the whole value chain at our event.” Fruit Logistica 2014 takes place on 5-7 February. Exhibition stand registration forms are available online. 

Publication date: 7/16/2013