Today, the Institute of Agricultural Food Research and Technology (IRTA) held the 23rd Peach and Nectarine Exhibition, which this year has been held in Alcarràs (Lleida). Josep Usall, the general director of the IRTA, said during the event's inauguration speech that this event allowed having a broad vision of the sector thanks to the varieties exposed and the participation of breeders. The mayor of Alcarras, Manel Ezquerra, expressed his satisfaction that Alcarras had been chosen to host this important day for the fruit sector.
This year, IRTA's collection of peaches, nectarines, and flat peach varieties, which began in 1994 and which has a total of 203 varieties, announced the results of the cultivation of 90 different varieties and explained their most characteristic features. 70 of these varieties were at the fresh fruit exhibition area.
In addition, Estanis Torres, IRTA researcher, presented the conclusions of a study on the effect of mechanical thinning on peach cultivation, where it has been concluded that it reduces costs and improves fruit quality. Generally, producers perform this task manually, which takes time and increases labor costs. In some cases, manual thinning may amount to more than 30% of the total production cost.
In this study, which has the support of the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Food of the Generalitat and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Torres tested and economically assessed different methods of flower thinning: manual thinning, manual thinning assisted with an electric clarifier, and mechanical thinning with barbed equipment coupled to the tractor. Compared to manual thinning, the results have shown a reduction in labor costs in all other methods, especially using mechanical thinning. The results also showed an increase in the caliber of the fruit, which translates into a higher price for the peaches in the market.
Since there is currently no chemical registered for peach thinning, Estanis Torres stated, mechanical thinning is a good alternative to reduce costs. Thus, mechanical thinning is gaining ground among fruit producers.
Six companies that produce stone fruit also presented their varietal innovations at the event.