"I believe there are few jobs that are as good as being a nursery gardener - it feels just like delivering babies," says Carmine Costantino, owner of a nursery garden established in 1980.

Almost all citrus nursery gardens in Southern Italy are located in Sicily, but his company is "located in Calabria because my father had work contacts over here and because I found the perfect land in the Sibari plain."

Carmine Costantino and his son Bartolo.

"Once we used to have only a few varieties, but now we have over thirty. We can finally compete with countries like Spain. You need to choose the right varieties, those that can be sold easily."

"We tried to update the sector with the help of agronomist Francesco Perri. We had to carry out quite a few investments to renovate the varieties and have also activated sections that produce grafting material destined for Calabria and other regions."

Francesco Perri and Carmine Costantino.

The nursery garden also produces olive and fruit trees, but most of the work is with citrus fruit. 100,000 plants are produced every year. The company covers 10 hectares - 70% are shaded and 30% are in greenhouses/polytunnels.


The diversification of rootstocks is very important: 20 years ago citrus fruit was multiplied mainly from Bitter Orange but now there are around 12 rootstocks that can be combined with different species and cultivars. Rootstocks resistant to the CTV are mainly used.

In addition to Citrange Troyer, Carrizo, C-35, Poncirus trifoliata, Citrumelo, etc, non-Californian C-22 (Bitters) is also being used, which is interesting because it makes plants vigorous and resistant to active lime. 

C-22 (Bitters), rootstock selected in California, it slows down the development of foliage and is tolerant to CTV and calcareous soil. 

There are different sections specialised in the different phases of plants. Everything starts in spring with seeds and after a few months, when the first leaves appear, they are transplanted in vases, where they will remain for approximately 2 years. One year after grafting, plants are ready to be planted on fields.

Citrus trees to be planted in 2015.

Perri adds that "the job requires special skills, one cannot improvise. A qualified team is needed, from technicians to personnel in the nursery garden."

On the right: certified trees ready to be sold.

As regards the origin of the seeds, the company gets them from mother plants from the Calabria nursery gardeners cooperative Center Gea Vivai Sud in Lamezia Terme (CZ), of which Carmine Costantino is the current chairman, and from abroad (Corsica, California, etc). 

"I would like to stress that the origin, health and varietal correspondence of material is very important, so it must be guaranteed. Nursery gardens must be checked rigorously," explains Costantino.

Left to right: Bartolo Costantino, Laura Torchia, Maria Carmela Amatore, Carmine Costantino.

"Growers must be supplied with controlled and checked material, to be collected from authorised structures. The "DIY" practice, which is very common, represents a potential problem for the whole sector."

Carmine Costantino Azienda Vivaistica D.o.c.

Ctr. Carlo Curti
87064 Corigliano Calabro (CS)
Tel./ Fax: (+39) 0983 80189
Email: bartolocostantino@libero.it