18 Jan 2021



Sicily is one of the main poles of early blueberries production in Italy. Starting from a fabric of small-scale producers, some have evolved to become enterprises that, in terms of investment and income, represent an important part of the local economies.

Among these young and dynamiccompanies is theAzienda Agricola Sud Mirtilli di Biagio Spataro in Vittoria (Ragusa), with 3250 plants in full production and another 1600 plants coming into production this year.

What does the 2021 season look like for your blueberries?

We started planning this season as early as last spring, so that we could anticipate the start of the campaign by pruning early. In this way we were able to schedule the first harvests as early as the end of January and the beginning of February. Now we just have to get through a couple of weeks with low minimum temperatures.

What are the characteristics of the fruits currently on the plant?

The production of blueberries is of good quality and we are seeing a good size; we have already started to taste some ready fruit here and there and we consider this a very good result for mid-January.

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What are your choices in terms of variety?

In our area, Ventura is performing very well in terms of size and appearance, so at the moment our production is concentrated on this early variety. However, we are evaluating other improvement options in order to anticipate market demands.

How did you set up your cultivation techniques?

The experience we have accumulated in our greenhouse production area and the characteristics of our soil make growing out of soil an easy, albeit obligatory, choice. According to regulations, production in pots cannot be certified as organic and therefore our blueberry is mainly conventional.

What do you think about blueberry zero residue?

Tests for zero residue production have also been carried out, with results showing some criticality in certain cases. In addition, the higher costs of treatments to achieve zero residue are to be compared with the results of the market, which is not always willing to recognise the added value of this product.

What are your expectations for the coming season?

We have planned the season so as to be ready a few weeks earlier than in 2020, and we expect to be on the market between the end of January and the end of May. This should allow us to cover an interesting market window and finish the harvest in time to anticipate pruning and prepare for the 2022 season. We are confident that the market will continue to confirm its interest in early Sicilian production as it has done so far, demonstrating its trust in a system made up of professional producers, advanced cultivation techniques and maximum competence in technical, food safety and sustainability aspects.

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