Carmelo Calabrese is an agronomist and the president of the OP Fonteverde di Ispica, “The courgette campaign in South-Eastern Sicily has just begun and it is characterised by two things: good prices due to a shortage of produce from Central Italy and a widespread fear of the New Delhi virus”.
Calabrese, “The season is at the initial stage. The first harvesting occurred at the beginning of this month. Step by step, we get into the heart of the campaign thanks to the transplants and sowings we carry out. In this way, we try to have as much available produce as possible over time. The 85% of the 40 hectares devoted to courgette farming is constituted by the dark green courgette. The remaining 15% is devoted to the farming of the Bolognese white courgette variety”.
In the last years, producers have been fighting the New Delhi virus which is carried by the white butterfly, the Bemisia tabaci – a butterfly particularly active in high temperatures areas. This induced farmers to shift the production to November so that it will end in May, in Sicily.
The manager, “There are several ways to fight back this white butterfly. For instance, one can apply nets along the tunnels’ side-holes, otherwise one can use a different kind of traps. We must be extremely careful with early produce fields because we need to find a compromise and the right time to open the tunnels – which is an operation that results in the coming of the white butterfly. In this way, we can allow the fruit to ripen properly”.
The expert said: “As of now, 15% of our crops are affected by the virus. This percentage will become lower as the temperatures become colder.
The market trend for the courgette is regulated by the meeting of demand and offer. During this phase, Sicily seems to be taking the lead. Let's see why.
The agronomist, “Spain is affected by the virus just like us. Therefore, also Spanish producers shifted the harvesting period which resulted in an increase in prices – to 1.80 euros/kg. The prices will stay high throughout November when the Spanish produce will start arriving. Despite the New Delhi virus-related problems, we are expecting a yield of 50 tons per hectare”.
The OP Fonteverde markets 70% mainly through Italian and foreign MMRs, and the remaining 30% is shipped to Italian wholesale markets.
Now, we have to wait and see to what degree the temperatures will change in order to understand how much the New Delhi virus will affect the total yield and the marketing campaign”.
For more information:
OP Consorzio Fonteverde Società Consortile Agricola a r.l.
C.da Fontanazza s.n.
97014 Ispica (RG) Italy
Tel.: +39 0932 951484
Fax: +39 0932 951200