29. January 2019

The right apple variety

New varieties: are standard apple varieties no longer of interest?

The Trentino-South Tyrol region produces more than 60% of the apples harvested in Italy. Both provinces are home to research institutions that oversee the constant evolution of apples and there is currently considerable hype concerning new apple varieties. Research and growing is the function of clubs (i.e. consortia and enterprises) that are responsible for the entire process of the cultivation, propagation, production and finally the marketing of these varieties. Many fruit-growers have in recent years asked themselves which varieties they should use for new plantings. On the one hand there is the difficulty of the general weakening in prices for standard varieties, while on the other access to such famous club varieties as Pink Lady or Kanzi is for many farmers very difficult or even impossible. A recent survey by VOG, South Tyrol’s largest apple marketing association, established that nearly 40% of its apple-growing acreage will be replaced with integrated cultivation techniques.


The need for action

The survey highlighted two points: first, there is a need to improve the quality of the standard varieties and, second, new varieties should be introduced into the range according to market demand. Several new club varieties have therefore been propagated in VOG’s variety strategy for the coming years. Such new varieties always entail a risk, however, as there exists no meaningful experience with regard to storage or marketing. There is nevertheless no question that the global market of the future will demand ever-higher apple quality, whether for club or standard varieties. It is the farms that offer such standard varieties as Granny Smith, Red Delicious or Golden Delicious that are in many cases outmoded today. The result is lower yields and annually declining fruit quality.

Better clones as a solution

The Gruber Genetti nursery can offer the ideal solution, as our nursery only propagates the best mutants of the classic varieties. Especially in the case of genetically unstable varieties such as Gala, Fuji or Red Delicious it is the source material, i.e. the quality of the scions, that is crucial for the future quality of the trees and fruits, as well as for the coloration of the apples. Strict controls and continuous selection guarantee the high quality of the scions: we only use those from our own cutting gardens or obtain them directly from the owners of the varieties and clones. The selection of strong colour mutations permits the creation of new clones such as the Gala SchniCo Red. With its intense, overall red colour it is also highly suited to areas with weaker coloration. This improved clone offers fruit-growers significant advantages: using the best source material, trees can reach their full yield sooner and produce apples of higher quality. This quality is ultimately reflected in higher selling prices, which also means that reasonable per-hectare revenues will be achieved with standard varieties.

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