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VOG, VI.P Consortia and Laimburg Research Centre

Italy: 60 years of South Tyrol varietal research at MacFruit

A collective stand celebrating 60 years of varietal innovation in the apple sector in South Tyrol, Italy's principal apple-growing area. This is the formula that two South Tyrolean consortia of apple growing enterprises – VOG and VI.P – brought to Macfrut, the international exhibition of the fresh produce sector at the Cesena Exhibition Centre from 26 to 28 September.

With the collaboration of the The Laimburg Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry, VOG and VI.P retraced the history and the characteristics of the numerous varieties that have made South Tyrolean apples famous, from the more traditional names like Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji or Red Delicious, down to the modern Club varieties like Pink Lady, Modì, Rubens or the more recent Kanzi and Jazz.

The past, present and future of South Tyrol's apple-growing sector were in the spotlight at the prestigious trade event in Cesena, providing a panoramic overview of over 160 years of apple production in the region. 1850, in fact, is recorded as the year in which this activity began to be seriously developed in the valleys of South Tyrol. Today, more than 20 different apple varieties are harvested by producers in the province of Bolzano, comprising an annual total of 5 billion apples: an unrivaled performance that makes these valleys in the foothills of the Alps the most important apple-growing area in Europe. Both organic and integrated methods are used, and apple conservation is being progressively improved through optimizing the controlled atmosphere storage plants, using DCA technology. Many of the numerous improvements that have come about over the years – such as the introduction of anti-frost irrigation in the 1950s, which helped stabilize the volumes of apples harvested – have been the results of the coordinated activities of the principal organizations of producers, of the consultancy center founded in 1957 and of the Agrarian-Forestry Research Center founded in 1975.

At the stand in Macfrut, visitors were treated to a preview of trends for the near future, and news about research goals for the coming years. Walter Guerra, Chief Pomologist at the Research Centre Laimburg, anticipates some of the subjects that will play an integral role in the future of this sector.

What is the state of the art of the apple-growing sector in South Tyrol? Where exactly are we now?

Since 1950, up to 4 new varieties per decade have been introduced to South Tyrol. Some of these are no longer being grown, while others – such as Golden and Red Delicious, Gala, Braeburn, Granny Smith and Fuji – have taken over as the mainstays of South Tyrolean apple production. As ever-better natural mutants are introduced, the area has witnessed an ongoing optimization of these varieties. As well as optimizing existing varieties, we are also spreading new kinds of apple, using exclusive commercial strategies – the so-called managed varieties, or Club varieties. Today we have reached a total of 1,200 hectares producing Pink Lady, Kanzi, Jazz, Modì, Evelina and Rubens.

How do you foresee your future, and what guidelines are you following in your experimentation and research on new varieties?

The SK South Tyrolean Varietal Innovation Consortium, controlled by VOG and VI.P, is constantly in touch with the world's most important varietal innovation programs. Just recently we have signed a new contract with Enza for the cultivation of a recent variety from New Zealand that during the next edition of Macfrut will play a leading role on our stand. Looking towards the future, the development of the South Tyrolean apple industry will be linked to certain aspects which we are following closely, including testing red pulp varieties, smaller snack-sized apples, varieties more resistant to disease and therefore more environmentally friendly, and also new yellow-peel hybrids.

For more information:
Lorenzo Minin
Tel: +39 059 7863894

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