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PROPLAT project

Largest experimental orchard dedicated to flat peaches and nectarines set up in the Marche region

Marco Eleuteri, CEO of Op Armonia and owner of Azienda Agricola Eleuteri, together with UNIVPM Professor Davide Neri, have announced the largest experimental orchard in the world dedicated entirely to flat peaches and nectarines, which has been set up in the Marche region.

The PROPLAT-Produzione sostenibile di pesche e nettarine platicarpe marchigiane di alta qualità project (PROPLAT-Sustainable production of high-quality flat peaches and nectarines in the Marche region) will last three years. The partners are Azienda agricola Eleuteri Laura (lead partner), I Quattro società agricola srl, Università Politecnica delle Marche UNIVPM, Biomedfood srl (a spin-off of UNIVPM) and even IRTA (Spain), probably the most innovative research institute in the world when it comes to flat peaches and nectarines. 


Left: Marco Eleuteri in the Civitanova orchard. The Eleuteri company is currently growing Saturn peaches in four orchards: 3 in Macerata and 1 in Fermo, covering 60 hectares in total.

"We are announcing it during one of the toughest moments our Country has ever faced. However, we are indeed the leaders when it comes to experimentation and research on flat peaches and nectarines. It is an extraordinary result and will form the basis for our future development. We have a good chance of becoming one of the most important flat peach producers in the world and definitely the leading one when it comes to flavor and nutritional quality. This is our objective," stated Eleuteri (in the photo above).   


Experimental orchard.

"After all, already in 2019, during the Future of Catalan Peach Cultivation meeting in Lleida, the Catalonia Department of Agriculture presented us as one of the most virtuous cases in the world when it comes to flat peach production. Catalonia is the leading producer region in Spain, which is itself the leading producer country."

"The experimental field covers around 3 hectares with around 5,000 plants including new varieties (40) and, most of all, new selections (80) considered interesting by the leading breeders in the world. 40% is destined to peaches, while 60% is destined to nectarines. What is more, around 1,500 cross-breeds have already been planted thanks to the cooperation of Crea Rome."

Experimental orchards.

For Azienda Agricola Eleuteri, it is a considerable investment of various hundreds of thousands Euro. "It will enable us to double cultivated surfaces over the next five years going from the current 110 hectares to over 200 by 2025. Considering the many flops in the past, careful experimentation is essential to limit mistakes." 

The project aims at strengthening the market presence and consumption of flat peaches and nectarines from the Marche region produced in an innovative sustainable way. New varieties will extend the current production window. 

"The most interesting varieties are selected on-site so as to favor those that are particularly resistant to our cultivation environment and capable of taking advantage of management techniques that promote high-quality and sustainability. The objective is to obtain high-quality healthy fruit thanks to mechanical and biological control solutions and to increase biodiversity in order to resist pathogens and parasites," adds Professor Neri. 

The quality and nutritional properties of the fruits will be assessed by the Università Politecnica delle Marche and be explained to consumers thanks to promotional and dissemination activities.

"The new varieties are tested by Eleuteri following the same protocol of IRTA in Spain so as to determine which are the most interesting and suitable for cultivation in the Marche region. Innovations include new low-impact or organic cultivation techniques. Photoselective nets capable of hastening ripening times will also be used with an anti-hail and anti-drip function to contain diseases and pathologies and as mechanical screens against the brown marmorated stink bug."

According to Neri, guaranteeing an effective defense will be an essential prerogative for the introduction of flat nectarine varieties that are practical and have high nutritional qualities.

"The adoption of living mulch (wild strawberries and mint) will limit the need for chemical weeding and tillage with the purpose of increasing the environmental sustainability of crops and favoring the multi-functionality of the land. Using mechanical and organic means to replace chemical ones will reduce chemical residue on fruit, meaning the peel will also be edible."

The nutritional and functional properties of the varieties introduced will be explained to and promoted with consumers. Initiatives carried out in 2019 highlighted how consumers are sensitive to the typical characteristics of flat peaches, i.e. flavor, aroma and crunchiness. The Biomedfood spin-off and two UNIVPM departments involved (D3A and DISCO) are monitoring the evolution of post-harvesting qualitative parameters to determine the perfect harvesting time.

Left: Early Saturnia® which ripens in early May. Right: Stark Saturn®. Four specimens planted in 1985, in perfect shape after 35 years, watch over newly-planted cross-breeds.

"Experimental orchards were planted during year one and IRTA and UNIVPM started assessing the quality of fruit. Tasting sessions with adults and children have been carried out to assess reception. In addition, the fruits of a variety of reference produced in Italy by Eleuteri are being analyzed to assess the effective correspondence between the visual selection made when harvesting and the measurable parameters that indicate the effective ripening level."

The collateral activities of the project also include international exchanges for students of the Università Politecnica delle Marche. In 2019, a student obtained an internship at IRTA in Lleida thanks to the Erasmus program and with the economic support of Eleuteri. 

Thanks to the cooperation of all units, consumers will be supplied with high-quality fruits as well as tools to understand the nutritional characteristics of the products purchased.


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