04 May 2024

Fall Creek and Molari join forces for "an Italy with better blueberries"

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Molari Soc. Agricola, an Italian company specialized in nursery operations and varietal development of berries, exclusively announce to Italian Berry a new partnership with Fall Creek for the development of the Italian blueberry industry, providing producers with a selection of new generation blueberry varieties already widespread in other parts of the world.

Sebastiano Molari started strawberry production in Romagna in the 1960s, but it was in the 1980s that his son Giuseppe, together with the young Gilberto, initiated the nursery business. In the 2000s, Molari made a significant leap into breeding, developing some globally widespread raspberry varieties. The new generation, represented by Luca and Matteo, made initial contacts with Fall Creek in 2023, opening a dialogue between the leading global blueberry nursery and and Italian key player in the nursery of berries.

Two Converging Strategies

Andrea Pergher, Technical Manager for Italy at Fall Creek, states: "We needed a more comprehensive distribution system in Italy, to serve smaller and more local customers, using a model we have already successfully implemented in Germany. The goal was to optimize logistics and customer service, overcoming the language barrier as well.

Logistics also play a crucial role in ensuring timely service tailored to each customer, with less environmental impact and lower transportation costs thanks to proximity to the Italian market."

"This need of Fall Creek corresponded to one of our strategic goals," says Monia Dall’Ara, Commercial Manager of Molari Soc. Agricola. "For blueberries, we aimed to have a complete varietal package, with improved varieties suitable to meet our customers' needs.

In our catalog, an important part of the assortment was missing: both for high chill varieties (Draper is beginning to be surpassed in favor of Top Shelf) and low chill varieties (Ventura and other Fall Creek varieties). There was a need both to cover gaps in the catalog and also to enhance it."

"At the same time we realized that Fall Creek needed global support to cover more remote areas or smaller quantities, with in-depth local knowledge from both farmers and technicians. For Molari, medium and small producers are important customers and this perfectly integrates with the current commercial setup of Fall Creek."

"Current Fall Creek customers can also refer to Molari for better and more timely service," emphasizes Monia Dall’Ara.

The Partnership Agreement

In a short time, Fall Creek and Molari signed an agreement that provides rights on the Italian territory for Molari, with complete availability of all the blueberry varieties from the Open Catalogue of Fall Creek.

Jacopo Giuliani, technical manager, explains to Italian Berry the technical objectives of the collaboration: "The aim is to improve the Italian varietal landscape, gradually introducing producers to newer, undoubtedly improved varieties."

"Some traditional varieties in Italy like Duke and Draper can be considered second generation, while we propose third-generation blueberries, backed by Fall Creek's experience, which now also has fourth-generation blueberries on the market, representing the pinnacle, grouped in the Fall Creek Collection and Sekoya varieties."

"The Fall Creek catalog that we will distribute extensively across the Italian territory includes both medium-high chill types for colder climates and low chill types for southern and insular regions," continues Giuliani.

High-Medium Chill Varieties

For the needs of producers in colder climates, five varieties are available that, with scalability, cover a calendar that runs from early June to late August. In order of maturity, they are:

Blue Ribbon

A variety with medium early maturity (+10 days compared to Duke) and excellent productivity. It is a large caliber variety, generally superior to Draper. Good shelf life and the fruit is hard, comparable to Draper.

Top Shelf

A variety with intermediate maturity (similar to Draper), "Large" size, good taste.

Valor

Intermediate maturity (5 - 7 days after Top Shelf), differs by the extra large size of the fruit and thus a high yield at harvest. Upright habit, very rustic, easy to grow and prune.The reference variety is Blue Crop, for which Valor represents the improvement choice.

Cargo

A late maturing variety (replacing Liberty); main characteristic is the high storability and shelf life of the fruit.

Last Call

The latest of the varietal package, replacing and improving Aurora. Like Valor, it has excellent cold resistance. Harvest throughout August.

Low Chill Varieties

For warmer regions, the Fall Creek catalog includes a group of varieties that cover a harvest season from early March to June.

Ventura

Characterized by high earliness, it is harvested from early March until May. It is recommended for greenhouse production, not open field as plants need protection during the delicate flowering phase. It is now a consolidated and well-known variety, remaining among the main varieties for Southern Italy, still sought after by producers, also to replace Ventura plants that for various reasons need replacement.

Ventura excels mainly for its earliness; it has an average taste and consistency. The chill requirement is low (about 100 hours). It must be pruned by the end of May to avoid excessive summer heat that can jeopardize following year's harvest.

Training for Italian Producers

"Molari plans a particular commitment to training for farmers, who often have a low risk appetite, to get to know and appreciate these new varieties," says Monia Dall’Ara regarding the commercial activity that will see them engaged in this first season as exclusive nurseries of Fall Creek.

"It is about overcoming a natural resistance to change and accompanying producers on a virtuous path of varietal renewal. We firmly believe that only in this way can the production chain remain competitive and offer its customers and consumers a product that meets expectations."

From Micropropagation to Pot

Jacopo Giuliani explains in detail the production activity that Molari will exclusively carry out for Fall Creek in Italy: "Regarding the plant production method, once the micropropagation and rooting activity that Fall Creek carries out from September is completed, the plants, about 10 cm tall, are packaged in cells and shipped to Molari.

In the Italian nursery, the seedlings complete the growth process from spring to the following autumn when they are transplanted into 1.3-liter pots and delivered to customers for final transplantation before vegetative rest, i.e., in October-November."

Monia Dall’Ara (Molari) says they have "already sold a significant portion of the plants that Fall Creek has allocated to Italy for this season and reservations are still open for the remaining part.

Our customers are invited to our facility with an exclusive welcoming program, where they are guided to discover all the potential of our varietal programs and for an initial personalized agronomic consultancy meeting with our technical team."

An Italy with Better Blueberries

Andrea Pergher (Fall Creek) concludes: "Thanks to the partnership with Molari, we also aim to give Italian producers easier access to improved varieties, contributing to building a world with better blueberries, following our global strategy in Italy as well, which has made Fall Creek a global leader in diffusion and innovation."


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