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Brazil: Four Euros a Kg for strawberries from Italian plants

Gianluca Baruzzi and Pierluigi Lucchi, from CREA in Forlì, recently returned from a trip to Brazil where they were able to verify how the cooperation with the University of Santa Caterina (UDESC) is going. They inspected some Italian varieties and selections, especially Pircinque, and could see that they are adapting to the Brazilian climate very well. 

The production areas visited by Baruzzi and Lucchi

"The project was started in 2012 thanks to Walther Faedi, Director of the Unità di ricerca per la frutticoltura – Forlì. The cooperation between the two organisations continued and, over the past few days, we visited various crops. UDESC is satisfied with the performance of varieties such as Pircinque and Jonica and therefore extended the patent to Brazil. A couple of nursery gardens were even authorised by UDESC for multiplication. Around 700 thousand plants of Pircinque are currently planted." 

Pircinque strawberries cultivated in Brazil 

Baruzzi and Lucchi noticed that harvesting was ending in the warmer areas and was in full swing in the cooler ones. In the big cities, prices were €3-4 kg on average.

"But a variety such as Pircinque can reach even higher prices, as their fruit is very sweet, firm and resistant to handling. This is essential in areas where logistics are difficult due to the lack of roads and services. Other varieties must be harvested while they are still practically green so they can reach the markets healthy, but Pircinque can be harvested when fully ripe."

Strawberries are collected in wicker baskets before they are packaged

Researchers provided a few suggestions on cultivation techniques - producers were advised to replace small single-row polytunnels with bigger Verona-type ones. As regards packaging, producers use cardboard crates with 4 250 gram punnets in plastic film. Strawberries are collected in wicker or wooden baskets and then transferred into punnets with the smaller strawberries at the bottom. It is a system that must be improved. 

Strawberries in trays with film (placed manually)

Pircinque is also appreciated because is very rustic and resistant to root diseases, which is very important in a country that does not allow fumigation. 

"We have also noticed that soil-less cultivation is becoming popular, especially in the south. Things are looking good, also because strawberries are considered an 'exotic' fruit." 

Mini-tunnels and harvesting in wicker baskets. The Italian researchers advised Verona-type polytunnels 

Good quality, sweetness and a long shelf-life are the most important elements for the Brazilian market. This cooperation between CREA and UDESC is leading to great results, with Italian varieties being purchased abroad.
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