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Italian grape cultivation:

Puglia and Sicily biggest producing regions

After China (4.9 million tons) and Turkey (1.6 million tons), Italy is the third largest producer of table grapes worldwide with 1.4 million tons. 70% of which is grown in Puglia. Forth and fifth on the list of largest producing countries are Brazil and Chile. Grapes have to have hot and dry weather and need about 600 mm of rain per year. Preferably, temperatures during the growing period shouldn’t reach 0 degrees Celsius. The cultivated varieties have changed over the years. The proportion of seedless varieties steadily increased to meet the demand of the market. It is expected that this increase will continue in the coming years.

In 2012, Italy garnered 1.08 million tons of grapes. That is 9% less than the previous year and 25% less than in 2006. The bulk of the production was destined for direct consumption and a smaller portion for processing. The south of the country yielded the largest production, a volume of 1.06 million tons was harvested in 2012, more than 98% of total production. Puglia garnered 650,000 tons (60% of the total), 21.7% less than in 2011 and 38.8% less than in 2006. Puglia and Sicily produce 93.8% of the total Italian production.

Acreage decline 35% in six years

From 2006 to 2012, the Italian grape acreage declined. In 2006 the total cultivated area amounted to 72,450 hectares. In 2012, that figure was 53,885 hectares, a difference of more than 18,000 hectares in six years and a 35% decline. The largest region is Puglia, with an acreage of 32,450 hectares in 2012. In that year, the acreage in Sicily was 16,225 hectares.

Grape cultivation in Puglia

In Puglia, about 35,000 hectares are dedicated to the production of grapes. 14,000 hectares in the province of Bari, 5,000 hectares in the province of BAT and 1,000 hectares in the province of Foggia.

Over 40% of production in Puglia involves the Italia variety. This grape has a unique Muscat aroma and is part of the region’s history. In the past twenty years, the seedless grape has grown in popularity and thus the share of Puglia has fallen sharply. Especially in Germany, sales of these grapes have decreased. Still, there are new opportunities for the Italia grape in Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, Italy will make new investments in seedless grapes.

Grape cultivation in Sicily

In Sicily, 16,500 hectares is dedicated to grapes. 7,500 hectares in Catania and Ragusa, and about 9,000 hectares in the provinces of Agrigento and Caltanissetta. The most widely grown variety is Italia and both areas have the PGI (protected designation of origin). In the region Mazzarrone, early varieties such as Vittoria and Blackmagic are grown in greenhouses. These are available from May. In Mazzarona in the acreage of Italia grapes is 4,000 hectares. Then comes Vittoria with 1,700 hectares, 1,300 for Red Globe and 500 for Sugraone and other seedless varieties. The Italia variety is also very popular in Canicattì and is grown on an acreage of 6,500 hectares. The limestone soil is perfect for this variety and gives it the correct yellow colour that is so popular in some European countries. 2,000 hectares is dedicated to Red Globe. Other varieties, including the seedless, have an acreage of 500 hectares.
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