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Ideal for apple orchards to boost fruit coloration - Italy

Compressed air leaf stripper: 4 hours per hectare vs. 1,000 by hand

During the month of September, technicians often recommend removing as many leaves as possible to facilitate exposure to sunlight and the coloring of apples, which are fruits that are also paid based on their coloration. In this regard, on 22 September 2022, Apofruit conducted two demos with a compressed-air defoliator owned by the San Biagio cooperative in Faenza, Ravenna.

The test on Fuji was held at Daniele and Giuseppe Golinucci's fruit farm in Forlì and was advocated by the Apofruit vice president Gianluca Balzani. "We purchased this operating machine from the Olmi company," explained Marco Ercolani of Coop San Biagio, "and it is available to farms. From a technical point of view, the defoliator shreds leaves using a jet of air under pressure at 0.8 bar. The disks rotate and this makes it possible to create a rotating jet of air that does not damage the fruit."

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 Marco Ercolani, San Biagio cooperative plant manager

Uncovered fruits are more likely to color. Technicians suggest intervening as early as 20 days before harvest, up to 5 days before. The equipment works with the Power Take-Off (PTO) shaft and hydraulic circuit diverters. The recommended speed for orchards is between 1 and 1.5 km/h. In vineyards it can be increased.

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 After machine passage

"Because it is an equipment that needs power, you need an orchard tractor, but one with a good amount of horsepower. We are using it quite a lot, even in vineyards, by changing the header because there is a difference between orchard and vineyard. When the harvest occurs then you will really see the results," pointed out Ercolani.

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 The machine in action

Other advantages of defoliating lie in the fact that the risk of fungal diseases is lowered, because receiving more sunlight also means more air circulating. "And the harvest turns out more uniform, with no shades.

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 Gianluca Balzani vice president Apofruit

"If on average defoliating an orchard by hand takes a thousand hours, with this equipment it drops to 4 hours. The result is very satisfactory, and the technique can be fine-tuned even more. For example, if producers know they will have to use it, they can implement suitable pruning," concluded Balzani.

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Giuseppe and Daniele Golinucci on 24 hectares of fruit-growing farm

San Biagio Cooperative and Apofruit have partnered so that members can take advantage of this service. Having apples with the right coloring, especially for club varieties, makes the difference between achieving a satisfactory income and a livelihood one.

For more information: 
Coop San Biagio 

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