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Costs and yield for planting a cherry orchard

It is well known that climatic changes and new pathologies are causing serious consequences to the fruit sector and, in particular, to the cherry sector. The cherry tree suffers particularly from rain damage, as well as hail and, for some years, has been confronted with a new insect highly damaging, the Drosophila suzukii. This will be a topic of interest at the next International Cherry Symposium (2-6 May 2022).

"It therefore becomes highly advantageous to protect the plant. In addition to an accurate agronomic assessment of the adaptability of each method of protection in relation to the cultivation environment, it is necessary to take into account both economic and financial considerations, also in view of the different cherry plant solutions," – from a note written by Rino Ghelfi and Alessandro Palmieri of the University of Bologna.

For this reason, the International Cherry Symposium scheduled at Macfrut 2022 will present the results of an economic study on three types of cherry orchards: medium density (MDP, Medium Density Planting, 823 plants/ha), high density (HDP, High Density Planting, 1,650 plants/ha) and very high density (VHDP, Very High-Density Planting, 6,000 plants/ha). The coverings that have been tested, for each type of plant, are the simple anti-hail and anti-rain coverings and the multitasking anti-insect coverings, the latter in both normal and semi-automated versions.

Source: authors' work from first-hand survey. Download the high-resolution chart here

"For each planting density, the most important parameters to consider for the impact on economic results are the duration, the initial investment costs, the earliness of entry into production and the average fruit size. With regard to the coverings, in addition to the initial cost, which increases depending on the complexity and the networks of the structure, it is important to consider the timing of the annual opening and closing operations".

"If we consider the average prices of cherries over the last 5 years, all the types of installations produced a positive result. The best performing plant in economic terms was the high-density one, followed by the medium-density one and then by the very high-density one. As has been shown in other similar studies, it is confirmed that a higher density corresponds to a more rapid return on the invested capital, a factor that makes the high-density investment less risky, despite the higher initial cost and shorter duration. The table (see above) shows the main technical-economic parameters of the plants and roofs compared."

"However, it must be stressed that there are also relevant environmental aspects related to the different coverings, due to the benefits of saving chemicals, on the one hand, and the costs of spreading plastics and other materials, on the other. These aspects, only mentioned in the study, certainly require in-depth study," concluded the two researchers.

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