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Italy: Large productive nectarines that taste good do actually exist
A few days ago, we visited a yellow nectarine Romagna Lady orchard at Daniele Neri Vivai in Faenza. The nursery gardener manages it directly and is also a plant variety breeder.
Premium range crate, grade 5A.
Unlike displays where only the best fruit is on show (of course), being in an actual orchard makes it possible to see all fruits and choose which to taste and photograph.
Romagna Lady is usually harvested from 20th August onward. We visited the orchard on 28th August and the biggest fruits had already been harvested, however trees were still loaded with large fruits, as the average grade is AAAA. No fruits are below AAA and many are actually 5A.
Lovely AAA - AAAAA fruits.
"It's because of the variety, all those who chose it are obtaining excellent produce. But it also needs good management. I always recommend double drip lines so as to keep a vast root area moist. Necks must never be wet, but this applies to all varieties."
Daniele Neri. The fruit on the right weighs 397 grams.
Branches are kept one metre from the ground and mulching is 20 cm to avoid asphyxia problems. Fertigation is carried out keeping the dosage to a minimum.
Nectarines on a tree. €1 coin for scale.
We tried various fruits, both ripe from the trees and those ready to be harvested for commercial purposes. The former are very sweet and are just as good as those ancient varieties people seem to think would be the solution to the drop in consumption. But the real surprise were the latter, which had a good crunchy texture with an excellent °Brix/acidity balance. According to Neri, they even improve after being stored in units for a few days.
Crates with 12 fruits, grade 5A.
"Pruning and thinning are essential, each branch mustn't have more than 80-100 fruits. With an average of 350 grams per fruit for 80 fruits, we're talking about 28 kg per branch and so 112 kg per tree. With 660 trees per hectare, we produce over 70 tons per hectare. Peaches with an excellent flavour and big grades always sell at a good price. Just ask producers who chose Romagna Lady."
Double drips, mulching, branches one metre from the ground, pruning and thinning: these are the secrets behind big nectarines that taste good.
From a technical point of view, these types of orchards guarantee better quality and coverage, but operations need to be carried out accurately and small tractors are needed. Anti-hail nets are essential. Last but not least, producers must rely on traders who know how to promote good large produce.
Daniele Neri Vivai Piante
Via Sacramora 15
48018 Faenza (Ravenna) - Italy
Tel./Fax: (+39) 0546 639169
Publication date: 8/31/2017
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