The frost of late March/early April, preceded by a period of mild weather that seemed to have favored stone fruit development, hit various municipalities in the Ionian area and damaged the orchards located in the lower areas where humidity and cold air lingered. Producer organization Asso Fruit has talked to FreshPlaza about the impact of the latest weather events on the sector and about the first varieties being harvested.
"Supplies will definitely be limited this year. Approximately 30% of our stone fruit production was affected by frost. The species that suffered the most was apricots, especially the Mogador and Flopria varieties. Plums were damaged as well, the Angeleno and Black Diamond varieties in particular. There were no problems for peaches and nectarines," explains Giuditta Signorella, agronomist and manager of the technical office at the PO.
Giuditta Signorella from Asso Fruit Italia
"The hectares dedicated to stone fruit cultivation represent around 25% of the total owned by companies part of Asso Fruit Italia. Almost all of them are located in areas were temperatures reached or even dropped below 0°C. The phenological situation of our stone fruit productions is varied - as we boast a vast varietal calendar, ripening times differ for the various species."
"Because of the sudden drops in temperature, plant development is around 15 days late. The 2021 campaign is now starting with the first varieties grown under protection covers, meaning they are a bit early. We are currently harvesting Ninfa apricots and will continue with Mogador and Pricia. As for nectarines, we are about to harvest the Flariba and May Glo varieties. Over the next few days, we will be able to assess whether it will be possible to recover the delay caused by the thermal shocks of the past few months."
"Study and research are two key concepts that must be intensified to deal with the damage caused by repeated weather events such as frost, hail and heavy rain. We realize that the funds granted after such events - albeit necessary and welcome - are often not enough to support businesses. At Asso Fruit Italia, we therefore support all solutions that avoid or reduce the damage and are interested in collaborating to find technological alternatives to protect crops and for the selection of new varieties more suitable to the climate conditions in our area."