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Italy: Good season expected for leafy vegetables and fennel

"After a year to forget in 2016, 2017 seems to be much better, as orders are more regular and scattered, meaning prices will fluctuate less," explains Alessandro Indorato, plant producer and one the southernmost in Europe.


Above: Alessandro Indorato

In Syracuse, the early leafy vegetable campaign is in full swing. We visited Vivaio Mondo Verde to better understand what's on offer in this area.

The company owns 50 thousand sq m of covered crops and grows mainly salad, fennel and brassicas.



"The area is particularly suitable for the cultivation of large leafy plants and fennel thanks to the very intense natural light, type of soil and favourable temperatures."

"The nursery garden produces approximately one hundred million plants, 50% of which are fennel and iceberg plants. Roman lettuce used to be the leading product but saw a 60% drop over the past 3/4 years, meaning now only 18 million plants are produced."

"The rest is made up of: butterhead lettuce, batavian lettuce, gentile lettuce and curly endive. The latter are getting increasingly popular especially thanks to the work carried out with large groups who collect the final product directly. We also produce cauliflower and cabbage plants, destined mainly to local producers."

"Sugarloaf chicory deserves special mention because we manage to produce it for harvesting in February and March, when it's not available in the north."



Vivaio Mondo Verde annual production:
- Iceberg lettuce, 30 million;
- fennel, 25 million;
- Roman lettuce, 18 million;
- curly endive, 6 million;
- brassicas (cauliflower, cabbage), 5 million;
- sugarloaf chicory, 4 million;
- butterhead lettuce, 2 million;
- endive, 2 million;
- batavian lettuce, 1 million;
- gentile lettuce, 500 thousand;
- radicchio, 1.5 million;
- onions, 5 million.

The nursery holds the organic certification and owns a self-assessment management software for hygiene and health procedures. Production is divided into three macro-periods: August and September (early); October and November (average); December, January and February (late).

"The cultivation of leafy vegetables and fennel is strictly related to potato cultivation in this area. In fact, big potato producers are the same ones who produce large numbers of leafy vegetables."



"Over the past 12 months, the heavy rain in late September caused floods that affected production."

"The rain was then followed by a steep drop in temperatures, with frost that hindered the growth of plants, leading to skyrocketing retail prices."

"In spring, cycles transplanted in different periods overlapped, leading to a drop in consumer prices. We can say the past season wasn't at all satisfactory."


Above: new nursery structure

"This season seems to be better. The past one weeded out some unlucky producers but also unprepared ones. This year, orders are better and more scattered, meaning planning will be better. Weather permitting, we could do a good job."

Contacts:
Soc. Agr. Vivaio Mondo Verde

C.da Spinagallo - Grotta Perciata, 65
96100 Siracusa (SR) ITALY
Tel.: + 39 346 695 0433
Fax: +39 0931717346
Email: alex.mondoverde@hotmail.it

Publication date: 9/20/2017


 


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