The epicenter of persimmon production in Europe is the Valencian regions of Ribera Alta and Ribera Baja, which have the PDO Kaki de la Ribera del Xúquer. This is the location of the largest cooperatives producing this fruit in the country, as well as of the nursery that produces the most persimmon plants in Europe.
"The first mutation of the Rojo Brillante persimmon appeared only 500 meters from our nursery," says Rosa Hernandorema, commercial director of Vivers Hernandorena. "My father was one of the first to graft persimmon plants of this variety, which quickly became a profitable product, achieving growth hand in hand with producers and exporters in this area."
Today the company produces 150,000 persimmon plants annually, which represents between 50 and 60% of the market share in Spain. "The main driver of our growth is exports, as plant sales in Spain have been stagnating for years due to poor results in the marketing of the fruit, as well as the large number of unregulated and very low-cost plants against which we have been unable to compete. The most important projects at the moment, and where our sales are targeted, are on-going in countries such as Portugal, France, Morocco, Azerbaijan and Italy. In fact, Peru and Uruguay, where we have been shipping plants for years, are gradually becoming off-season origins for some Spanish marketers. We specialize, therefore, in the production of plants for long-distance shipment."
Viveros Hernandorena works with different rootstocks, both Lotus and Virginiana, and the Rojo Brillante is the flagship variety, accounting for around 80% of the total production. "We are diversifying our variety portfolio with new ones such as the Ribera Sun, a mutation of the Rojo Brillante that reaches larger calibers and makes it possible to cut irrigation and fertilization costs by up to 30% while delivering the same quality as the Rojo Brillante." According to Rosa Hernandorena, when the Rojo Brillante persimmon enters production, the demand for other varieties practically disappears. "We and other agricultural organizations and companies have tried many other varieties without as much success as the Rojo Brillante, which continues to take the spotlight," she says.
Hernandorena owns all the persimmon plants it produces. "This allows us to have full control of the traceability, make better selections, guarantee the homogeneity of the plants, and therefore, of the fruits, as well as of their quality, and to deliver greater volumes. Offering plants with 100% varietal reliability is key for growers to trust us. Growers know they can get the real varieties from us. We work for professional agriculture."
"In recent years, our success in the cultivation of persimmon plants has allowed us to expand into other crops, such as pomegranates or carobs, as well as almond trees, for which we are seeing a very high demand. Undoubtedly, we are what we are thanks to persimmons," says Rosa Hernandorena.