"An area historically known for the cultivation of wheat is now experimenting a new innovative technology for the early production of apricots. The new system consists in a tensile structure with a reinforced Polyfilm-Plus film and an adjustable ventilation system that can be used to hasten ripening," reports Walter Ruggia, technological innovation manager Retilplast, a company that has been producing, processing and commercializing nets, films and tarpaulins for the protection and improvement of crops.
Cerignola (FG) area, May 2019: apricot orchard protected by Retilplast covers.
The system was used on an apricot orchard starting from the winter months when trees start their blossoming phase.
"Film edges, placed above the central corridor, have a 50 cm strengthening that makes it possible to create an opening between 10 and 100 cm. Growers can choose how much to open or close the corridor according to weather conditions and agronomic needs."
"The corridor remains closed in February and March."
The installation is set up with:
- A POLYFILM-PLUS film reinforced with a POS winter band on one edge and a 50 cm edging on the opposite side.
- A hook on the ridge (to join and hold the two films in place).
- A hook in the central corridor to make tying and tensioning easier with an 8 mm (diameter) elastic tie-rod that "zigzags" between the edge and the central wire.
"This system also envisages a perimeter closing with a ventilation window. The opening can be adjusted between 10 and 50 cm with a simple hand movement and films do not need to be tied as the sliding film fits among the elastic tie-rods."
"Our innovative system could become a safe solution in spring (April and May). Managing the central corridor is very simple. During blossoming, the day and night temperature needs to be monitored and remain below 30°C, meaning the corridor must be adjusted depending on the weather. To open it, one needs to shift the outer edges of the film by hand and the position is held thanks to the elastic and hook. As plants and fruits grow, it is preferable to fully open the film to manage the temperature and ventilation."
Above right, a partial 50 cm opening. Above left, the corridor is fully open.
Last May was characterized by abnormal weather conditions and temperature fluctuations. In the photo above, we can see how the Cerignola grower, seeing that temperatures dropped to 15°C, closed the corridor to maintain a constant temperature of 25-30°C.
"Fruit can ripen 15-20 days early depending on the minimum night temperature and climate area."
I The film comes with a white protective tarpaulin named POD that makes it possible to protect films when they are not used.
Films are closed and wrapped in the protective POD.
Films are tied transversely as well to protect them in case of severe weather conditions.