"People talk about unprecedented low or high temperatures every year, but maybe this year will indeed be remembered for the high temperatures, as they skyrocketed to over 45°C in various parts of Sicily with very strong winds which have caused the 'hairdryer effect' on crops. Nonetheless, we have managed to limit the damage thanks to emergency irrigation, which has prevented the fruit from ripening too early," reports Rocco Patrì, from the EcoFarm PO.
"Another element to highlight was the overlapping of harvesting operations for early and medium-early peach varieties. The heatwave accelerated the ripening of all varieties: the produce is very tasty and with a high sugar level, but it took a lot of effort to manage operations. Luckily, the shelf-life of our peaches and nectarines has meant we could comply with all scheduled supplies and we did not have to deal with competition from abroad this year.
The great professionalism of the EcoFarm PO has enabled a correct commercialization of stone fruit by Italian and foreign big retail chains despite the problems.
"As for table grapes, quality continues to be good and commercialization is proceeding at a high speed. As the microclimate is more temperate in the vineyards, there have been no major problems, also thanks to our extensive experience."
"We have had to accelerate harvesting operations, though! Over the next few weeks, early varieties such as Victoria will leave space to medium-late ones like Italia etc. Grapes are forming regularly and quality is excellent. Of course, in this case too, our ability to manage the heat has made the difference: not all companies have this know-how and, unfortunately, many businesses lost a lot of fruit."
Rocco Patrì in an archive photo (November 2017), in an Italia grapes vineyard.
"On the one hand, we certainly have extensive experience when it comes to management, especially in the grape department but, on the other hand, a lot of water is needed and it needs to be used properly. This is a problem due to the usual lack of water in Sicily, which is now beginning to worry multiple productive segments. Aquifers are not full enough due to the lack of rain and high temperatures. We are hoping they will cope with quantity of water currently being taken from them. In the meantime, Sicilian producers are expecting the government to intervene. Ecofarm is trying to involve its partners in a project that could strengthen our production chain."
OP Ecofarm boasts 60 hectares of early and medium-late white grapes, both seeded and seedless; 200 ha of peaches and nectarines; 40 ha of Canary yellow melons + 40 ha of netted melons; 20 ha of persimmons and other species.
"Luckily temperatures have dropped over the past few days, so we are hoping things will go back to normal. The pandemic did not compromise our workforce or our logistics."
For further information:
O.P. Eco Farm s.r.l.
Legal headquarters: Viale della Regione, 232
Facilities: C.da Judeca
93011 Butera (CL)
+39 0934 921558