"This year, the yields and the quality of the Italia variety grapes are extraordinary, as well as the crispness and size of the berries. Compared to last year, we have 20% more product on the plants, while the sugar level is easily reaching 18°Brix (for some lots even 20°Brix), with berries that do not go below 20-22 mm," said Antonello Lepore, agronomist and quality manager of Orchidea Frutta, a company based in Rutigliano (Bari) specializing in the production and distribution of table grapes, citrus fruits and stone fruits.
"What could improve are the selling prices. We have been harvesting the Italia grapes for a fortnight now, but the prices have remained stable. The kick-off has been very good with regards to the demand, although seeded grapes tend to be less and less preferred by consumers. These grapes are sold both in the domestic market and in Europe, but the price is not right. Nevertheless, we do not suffer from foreign competition for this variety, as is the case for other cultivars, especially seedless ones."
"The strong heat recorded between July and August, with temperatures well above average, amplified by the prolonged drought, led to an abnormal phenological stage of ripening that caused the grapes to undergo water stress and a nutritional imbalance. Some shelf-life complications also occurred in some batches of Italia grapes from some Apulian areas, grown on specific types of soil and managed with the wrong water regime during the particularly dry summer months. These difficulties have been almost completely overcome, not only thanks to the arrival of the much longed-for milder temperatures, but also thanks to a targeted agronomic intervention and a proper field management," continued Lepore.
“The campaign is still a long way off, but we hope that prices will rise as soon as possible, so that companies can better deal with the increases in costs that have been affecting our sector for almost a year now. If prices remain low, producers will tend to lose that healthy spirit of competition and innovation, with the risk that the production base and the entire supply chain will become less and less sustainable,” concluded the agronomist and quality manager of Orchidea Frutta.