The Italian season has started with the first harvesting operations in Sicily, although production is around ten days’ late. Mantuafruit sales manager Alessio Orlandi discusses the situation: “we have not forced production, as we still had the melons grown by our Senegalese company. The first harvesting operations should start around May 5th. We expect quantities to be lower than usual for the transplants in open fields to be harvested in the summer.”
Alessio Orlandi and Bruno Francescon
“Planning is essential to guarantee the presence of product in stores, this is why our long-time customers will be favored as well as those who have understood the momentous change we are experiencing. Information in our possession says lower quantities are expected in all Mediterranean production areas, therefore the market should be lively.”
Op Mantuafruit is focusing on two very important tests: the first is zero-residue melon in order to meet the needs of those clients who are requesting a more sustainable, yet not organic, production. Zero residue heavily reduces the use of synthetic chemical “inputs”, which are only used far from harvesting so that no trace is left on the produce ready to be used.
“The other test concerns Antonio Francescon-branded top-quality netted melons, (www.antoniofrancescon.it), which are grown on limited areas. The unique variety is characterized by a softer flesh with a deep flavor and aroma and a guaranteed minimum Brix level.” The project is in line with consumer preferences, as they are looking for melons with consistent high-quality available throughout the season.
“By combining tradition (we have been growing melons for over 50 years) and technology – we have 4 NIR lines that can assess the internal quality of fruits in a non-destructive way – we think we can keep promises. The name chosen in synonym with guarantees and tradition, as it is the name of the family pioneer who believed in cultivating melons in Mantua, i.e. Nonno Toni (Grandpa Toni).”
As for black watermelons, the PO was pleased with the good feedback for the Perla Nera variety grown in Senegal. “We carried out a test on twenty hectares to check client reactions. We were really pleased as, despite the rather high price of the product, it sold well so much so that, at times, we could not even meet demand. Perla Nera watermelons from Senegal arrive twice a week and we will definitely plan more hectares for 2023.”
But there is more, as the PO is testing an organic production of mini Perla Nera watermelons. This way, the category can be segmented even more, increasing its value. “A further reason to raise the bar and pose new challenges to the sector.”
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46040 Rodigo (MN)
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