"We started in 2016, almost by chance, with the idea of winning a bet, that of being able to grow blueberries in our area. We decided to grow them in pots, in an area of the National Park of Cilento, and we obtained good yields per hectare. We adopted a specific soil (very acidic) and applied all the traditional methods for the production of small fruits." This is what Marco Cammarano, owner of the family-run farm Agricilento, explained to FreshPlaza.
Blueberry plants grown soilless in the Cilento National Park.
Agricilento is a thriving business thanks to the high demand for blueberries, whose production in Italy is low compared to the needs of the domestic market. Consumers are aware of the benefits and healthy properties of these berries in strengthening the immune system, which are appreciated because they combine their high nutraceutical value with the deliciousness of the fruit.
"The varieties available are three - pointed out Marco Cammarano - and they are characterized by high early ripeness and very low temperature resistance, therefore we opted for the giant American blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). This high-yield cultivar is intended for both the fresh and processed markets and for this reason the number of plants cultivated is steadily increasing, compared to other traditional varieties. This is due to their higher productivity, along with a superior flavor and caliber compared to traditional varieties."
The first harvests are carried out in May/June and are completed in July, depending on the weather conditions, and the product is compact and has a high sugar content. The production potential is about 10 tons/hectare, a quantity with very good prices both for the fresh and the processed product.
Turning blueberries into juices and jams was, for the company, an unavoidable choice to extend the marketing period, also because it is a very delicate product that, within a few days, has to be either sold to the fresh market or transformed.
Agricilento transforms fresh blueberry on behalf of third parties from a company specialized in the processing of artisan products.
The products are much requested for their organic cultivation and their short supply chain. Above all, the direct sales proceed very well. The volumes are growing and one of our projects is to increase the number of plants. The company is currently gaining ground because of a lack of supply of blueberries in the surrounding area, as well as the extraordinary demand from tourists and word-of-mouth that increase the sale of the fruits."
"Blueberries - concluded Marco Cammarano - are a typical crop of northern Italy, especially widespread in Piedmont, Veneto and Trentino. The plus is that blueberries ripen as early as May in our production area, that is, one month in advance, at a time when there is no longer any foreign production arriving on the market, such as for example from from Morocco and Spain, which end their seasons on average at the end of May. This means that between June and mid-July the only fresh production available on the market is Italian, and therefore, in terms of sales, we have no commercial competitors."