The generational change that is occurring in agriculture is leading not only to different choices when it comes to crops, but also to greater attention towards modern agronomic techniques that can reduce costs, simplify operations and guarantee high quality standards.
For example, super-intensive vertical wall systems are becoming more and more popular in some southern regions. Agronomist Vito Vitelli is one of the main promoters of this innovative management model, which is considered of interest especially by the new generation of fruit growers. FreshPlaza has talked about it with a few producers from Campania and Sicily who decided to grow pears not using the traditional system.
Pear orchard in Teano (Caserta). In the photo, Rosario and Antonio Cipolletta.
Brothers Rosario and Antonio Cipolletta from the Caserta province explain that "a modern approach is needed when investing in pear cultivation. We currently own around 6 hectares where we grow the Coscia and Abate varieties, and are looking to plant more over the next few years. Orchards are young, so not all of them are productive, but quotations hover around €0.90-1/kg. With peaches, we barely sold at €0.25/kg, so much so that I decided to uproot my 14 hectares. Traders are more interested in pears, also due to the problems that keep affecting northern Italy."
"Coscia pears are harvested in July, while the harvesting of Abate pears starts in late August. Our vertical orchards have a layout of 0,65x3.50 m. At the moment, they have reached a height of over 3 m. Each plant grows 120-130 fruits with an average weight of 100 g. Harvesting and pruning operations are carried out with a lifting arm that can carry up to 4 people so as to make things quicker. I am very pleased with the results and the produce. Arranged this way, plants intercept the light better so fruits develop a more appealing color."
Pear orchard in Castronovo di Sicilia (Palermo). In the photo, Bruno and Fabio Di Marco.
FreshPlaza has also talked to Bruno and Fabio Di Marco from the Palermo province. The brothers both work in the family metalworking business, but they are passionate about agriculture. They were among the first in Castronovo di Sicilia to introduce the super-intensive pear orchard technique. They had set up a traditional orchard at first (4x2.5m), but decided to uproot the trees and replant them according to a more modern method. "We have 4 thousand plants of Coscia pears planted around one year ago. Trees are responding very well and have reached a height of 2.5 m, so much so that we have had to purchase a harvesting wagon to manage crop operations. Before improvising, professionals should always be contacted to avoid wasting time and money."