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Strawberry and politics in Russia

Strawberry and politics in Russia

The season of strawberry has started in Moscow region, but it is still uncertain whether the consumers will enjoy local berries. As in often happens in Russia, political reasons might interfere the sales of strawberry in Moscow.

The authorities of Moscow region has not still issued the permission for Sovkhoz Lenina, one of the largest strawberry producers in Moscow region, to sales its crop. The head of the company, Pavel Grudinin, former President Elections candidate, stated to Echo Moskvy news agency that the reason might be the refuse of his party, KPRF, to support amendments to Russian Constitution.

Another assumption is the hostile takeover of the successful company. In either cases, it is the end consumers and the employees of the Sovkhoz who will have to pay…

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“Berries are a breeder’s business”

Digital Berry Meeting, organised by Mercados magazine copyright. Mercados revista

© Mercados revista


The high mortality rate among strawberry plants and how this affects the sector’s profitability was addressed at the second Digital Berry Meeting, organised by Mercados magazine. In a discussion titled: ‘Current situation of strawberry varietal development’, representatives of breeding companies, nurseries and producers analysed the causes of this mortality, which can reach as high as 30%, as revealed by Alfredo Arcos, technical director of Fresón de Palos.

The increasing diversity of varieties, from 20 to 117 in just over 15 years, according to the National Association of Strawberry Nurseries, together with the absence of active materials for soil disinfection and crop treatment, and the constant demand for earlier plants have all given rise to a breeding ground that is seriously affecting the profitability of commercial nurseries.

“Our profitability has plummeted, especially in the last three years,” said Javier Palacios, president of the association, who went on to say that “the business belongs to the breeders, who face no risks, while our profitability is zero.” And although nurseries provide healthy plants to their customers, if any problem appears, “we are responsible”.

According to Palacios, nurseries work with the sole objective of minimising mortality; for this, they scrupulously select the initial plant and, from there, they carry out an exhaustive follow-up of the clones according to criteria of fruit quality, Brix level, and yield. “It is almost impossible for a mutant to escape,” he said. 

Nevertheless, strawberry plant mortality remains a problem with an increasingly difficult solution. In this sense, Alfredo Arcos regretted that, currently, the breeder companies focus on the search for earliness or yield, at the expense of other issues such as resistance. 

Juan Manuel Arenas, director of FNM, and Francisco Jover, technical director of Eurosemillas spoke of their roles. On the subject of the possible causes of the mortality mentioned by nurseries and producers, Arenas added one more factor: the impact of climate change on nursery plants. As breeders, Arenas stated that they have two main goals: to offer varieties with tolerance to pathogens; and to provide their associated nurseries with genetic materials with sufficient guarantees for multiplication, which they then monitor. 

At Eurosemillas, Francisco Jover stressed the low mortality of their varieties, which amounts to just 1-2%. The breeding company has been in the sector for more than 50 years and, today, has more than 40 varieties of different species, including berries.

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Lycia®CIVNB557* and Sibilla*: two CIV strawberries that make the difference in Romagna

Lycia®CIVNB557* and Sibilla*: two CIV strawberries that make the difference in Romagna

                                                                                                                                                                                          Press Release

The testimony of two producers from the Cesena area. Loris Benvenuti: “Lycia, a strawberry suitable for the North, but resembling those cultivated in the South!” Antonio Benzi: “Sibilla is conquering also Northern European Markets.”

Although the South of Italy is home to the largest and most important areas (Caserta and Policorese) for the strawberry cultivation in the country (Southern Italy now represents 62% of the total strawberry areas of the country), Romagna, which is the historical cradle of Italian strawberry cultivation, remains essential for the cultivation of high-chill June bearer varieties.

The CIV — Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti — which has always been a leader in the development of varieties in this category, met two producers from Cesena, direct witnesses of the Lycia® CIVNB557* and Sibilla*.

Loris Benvenuti, who has been growing CIV varieties for a long time and has closely followed the Lycia® CIVNB557* variety since the early stages of development, reports his extremely positive experience of the current harvest.

“In general, as far as the characteristics of the plant are concerned, Lycia® CIVNB557* differs from the traditional June bearer varieties for northern Italy due to its compact habitus. In fact, the plant has a semi-erect habit that facilitates production both in open field and tunnels. Moreover, like many varieties of CIV, it is characterized by an excellent rusticity of the plant and tolerance to powdery mildew and fungal diseases, which allow its cultivation even in tired soils, like mine, where strawberry monoculture has been repeated for over twenty years.”

As for ripening “in terms of precocity, the harvest begins eight to ten days after Clery* (start of harvest: 5-6 April). One of the great advantages of Lycia® CIVNB557* is undoubtedly the wide harvesting window, i.e. a long on-plant ripe life of the fruit, which does not deteriorate quickly if not harvested promptly. In addition, the wide harvesting window and the short fruit stem make harvesting easier, less expensive and more manageable, allowing the plant to accumulate more sugar in the fruit, which becomes sweeter and remains crunchy. To give a practical indication, in my company we harvest every 3-4 days on average. Lycia® CIVNB557 can be harvested without problems even on the fifth or even sixth day since the previous harvest.”

Benvenuti then focuses on the characteristics of the fruit: “The sweetness and taste are good even when the variety is harvested for business needs not fully ripe. Instead, when harvested at the physiologically correct time, Lycia® CIVNB557* develops an excellent taste with a sugar degree that on average is between 8 and 9 degrees Brix. Both the elongated shape and the high flesh firmness remind some traits of strawberries cultivated in Southern Italy. Finally, the high flesh firmness allows the fruit to be marketed without it being easily damaged. The color of the fruit is bright red and never reaches, even in late harvests, dark colors.

Loris concludes by describing some aspects of commercial relevance: “The variety is suitable for both cultivation in tunnels and open field. In terms of production, to date, May 12th, production is around 800 g per plant in a tunnel and I am confident that the kg/plant ratio can be exceeded. The shape and flesh firmness, recalling the typical characteristics of low-chill varieties (cultivated in southern Europe) that have captivated Italian consumers for years, and the high organoleptic properties of the fruit will allow Lycia® CIVNB557* to enter a premium segment in the variety scene of northern Italy.”

The second testimony is that of the producer Antonio Benzi, who has been growing the Sibilla variety for several seasons now. “The increasingly unpredictable and highly variable climate this year has fortunately not caused any problems. Many producers are looking for precocity, but for me the strawberry comes in May. Sibilla, which is certainly not among the earliest varieties, in my area has an open-field flowering time that starts in mid-April, when the risk of late heavy frosts is relatively low. In fact, this year the late frost events that we had in spring did not cause problems for Sibilla, which still had close swollen flower buds just before the opening phase.”

From an agronomic point of view, Benzi suggests: “My advice is to cultivate Sibilla not on virgin soils, but even on tired ones, but properly sterilized, in order to create the ideal conditions to balance the vegetative-productive development of the plant and to guarantee a contemporaneity between the leave growth and the abundant flowering. Moreover, Sibilla, like many genotypes of the CIV, is characterized by high rusticity and tolerance to diseases and stress.”

Benzi then focuses on productivity: “Despite the medium-to-late harvest, as of May 12th, the quantities harvested in the first stages were very generous, guaranteeing 800 grams of fruit for plants cultivated under tunnels and about 150-200 grams for those in open field. This fact demonstrates the high production potential of this variety. For those who want to anticipate the ripening of the fruit, it is sufficient to use new plastic film, therefore clean, and non-woven fabric in the winter period.”

About the characteristics of the fruit “Sibilla possesses an aesthetically very attractive fruit, conical elongated, regular and good-sized, of red-brilliant color with a well-colored flesh inside, very consistent with skin resistant even to rain, which can damage the fruit in field crops.” In commercial terms, “the taste is very good and sweet, even in non-red (not yet ripe) fruit. This fact makes it possible to anticipate the harvest should the company need it, without compromising the quality of the fruit. However, when fully ripened, Sibilla can reach 7.5-8 degrees Brix. The essential aspect is certainly the aesthetic one. The regular shape and appearance of the fruit are exceptional on any other variety. This can be verified by comparing a top-quality fruit box of Sibilla with any other variety. Moreover, the exceptional shelf-life allows easy processing in the packing warehouse and subsequent exportation even in distant foreign markets.”

“To conclude – says Benzi – Sibilla has been able to meet the growing internal needs of the Italian consumers and beyond for years. This variety, in fact, is also appreciated in countries beyond the Alps, such as Sweden and Switzerland, where I personally take care of its marketing. Even local customers, most of whom belong to the large-scale retail trade, are enthusiastic about this variety! It is for all these reasons that I consider Sibilla the number 1 variety for the Cesena area and that is why I have dedicated the entire company to its cultivation, with a total of 500,000 plants, of which 200,000 under tunnels and 300,000 in open field.”

CIV Strawberry breeding program

Active since 1984, it has been developed following four lines of research: strawberries for mild Mediterranean climate environments, for continental climate environments, re-flowering and varieties suitable for industrial transformation. The use of classical techniques, and the development of new varieties that guarantee high production and excellent-quality fruit, together with a natural rusticity and vitality of the plants, are CIV’s primary objectives, in order to offer the national and international markets not only quality but also the highest level of eco-sustainability.

CIV – Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti

CIV – Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti – is a leader in varietal innovation and the production of certified propagation materials in Italy. Active since 1983, based in San Giuseppe di Comacchio, in the province of Ferrara, the CIV is made up of three leading Italian nurseries: Vivai Mazzoni, Salvi Vivai and Tagliani Vivai. Through synergy, experience and important investments in research, CIV is able to offer cutting-edge products that are more responsive to market needs. CIV, with great foresight, has been committed for years to selecting varieties that can provide high-quality production with reduced energy requirements and low environmental impact. Overall, the three nurseries produce about 5 million rootstocks, 3.5 million apple, pear and stone fruit plants and 250 million strawberry plants every year. CIV is a founding member of the International New-varieties Network (INN), a worldwide association of nurseries that promotes the exchange, evaluation and marketing of new varieties in the main production areas around the world.


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Fall in Polish strawberry prices amidst uncertainty

Fall in Polish strawberry prices amidst uncertainty


The first Polish strawberries appeared at wholesale markets at a price of about PLN 20/kg, according to data published by For now, they are cheaper than a year ago at the same time, but they will probably soon increase in price. The first domestic strawberries from greenhouses were available on April 23 for PLN 18-22/kg in Broniszach, near Warsaw. Last year, the price of a kilo of strawberries was on average PLN 23, and the highest price was PLN 25/kg. This is over twice the cost of strawberries imported from Spain and Greece, which are offered at PLN 9-11/kg.

The harvest of strawberries in tunnels will start at the end of April, while in the fields, the season runs between May and June. Uncertainty remains about whether there will be sufficient labourers for the harvest. If pickers from Ukraine do not come because of the coronavirus, it is hoped that Poles will step in to fill the gap. This will mean higher costs and, inevitably, higher prices, too.

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Strawberry sales take a hit

Not all fruits are seeing a positive effect of the lockdowns in many countries. Consumers appear to be choosing products with a longer shelf-life, which has significantly hit demand for strawberries across Europe at the peak of the season in the Mediterranean region. As a result, prices are falling as consumers switch to citrus, apples, and kiwifruit. There is currently a large volume of fruit available in Italy, Greece and Spain. To make matters worse, there is also a lack of personnel required to harvest the strawberries in Spain’s Huelva region, following the closure of the border with Morocco. If the situation persists, the soon-to-commence harvests of the other berries will also be adversely affected.

Ephemeral sales of strawberries in France, like here in Agen by the Rougeline company, with a drive for the customers to directly pay and collect their products without leaving their car /// © La Dépêche
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Parthenope®, the new CIV low-chill strawberry variety

Parthenope®, the new CIV low-chill strawberry variety

Michelangelo Leis, CIV Breeder: “We are focused on new high-quality varieties, with greater environmental protection, easy to grow, with high productivity”. Marco Bertolazzi, Business Development manager: “New genetics are suited to traditional field crops and/or modern soilless and/or greenhouse techniques”

A new low-chill strawberry variety, CIVS115* Parthenope®, featuring  very high precocity and high productivity, has been developed by the technicians at CIV-Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti (CIV) based in San Giuseppe di Comacchio. The plant shows an upright and open habit structure with fruits external to foliage, thus easy to be harvested. CIVS115* Parthenope® is also characterized by an excellent quality (flavour, firmness and size), conical-elongated fruit, highly distinctive and regular for all several fruit harvests throughout the season and by the beautiful bright red colour and high resistance to handling.  

“Our Research and Development Programme”, explains CIV Breeder, Michelangelo Leis, “is built along the following guidelines: natural hardiness of the plants; ease of production according to conventional agronomic techniques, and good adaptability to both integrated and organic production, thanks to inherent tolerance to diseases and low water and nutrients requirements, thus guarantying a low environmental impact; optimal firmness and shelf-life characteristics”. 

Marco Bertolazzi, CIV Business Development Manager, adds: ““Among the other strawberry varieties for warm climates in the CIV Portfolio we remind Flavia* and Flaminia*, renowned for the high quality of the fruit and for the excellent shelf life ; CIVS906* ELIDE®, which represents the mid-to late proposal of CIV, able to offer fruits of the highest quality even in the final months of the season (April-May-June) and in advanced evaluation it is worth mentioning the new selections “CIVL519, CIVL514 and CIVS113” with the aim of achieving the production peak before April, thus improving the varietal offerings currently present in the market in that early period. In particular, CIVL519 looks very promising, offering very early productions of excellent quality (high size and brix grade).”

Bertolazzi continues: “With regard to the varieties suitable for fresh and/or cold climates, which with suitable cultivation techniques and / or selecting suitable areals, normally piedmont or mountains (therefore characterized by fresh summer and absence of extreme temperatures), could also adapt to Southern Italy, we cite the recent CIVRH612* ANIA®, with distinctive aroma of wild strawberry. Finally, the CIVRL333* XANTE® is the first low-chill ever-bearer variety of the CIV and therefore suitable for hot and dry climates. It is worth remembering that the new genetics of the CIV adapts to traditional field crops and/or greenhouse techniques combine which combine high natural resistance with excellent organoleptic qualities in line with the demands of today’s global market”.

“In general”, CIV breeder Leis adds, “CIV is committed to offering new varieties that better meet the needs of all supply chain players with special attention to the consumer. The new varieties feature high quality organoleptic and gustatory levels, offer greater environmental protection, as they are resistant to and/or tolerant of a few pathogens, have a long shelf-life, are easy to grow, are productive, etc., and thus enable CIV to offer markets worldwide strawberry varieties (ever-bearers and June-bearers) suited to a variety of environments”.

  • Sheet / CIV – Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti

Located in San Giuseppe di Comacchio (near Ferrara), the Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti (CIV) has been active since 1983. It is composed of three important Italian Nurseries: Vivai Mazzoni, Salvi Vivai and Tagliani Vivai. With over 40 years of experience, CIV is one of the most specialised companies in the world of strawberry/apple/pear variety development and research, with the goal of reaching a high level of variety innovation and the production of materials certified in Europe and around the world. Through synergy, expertise and major investments in research, CIV is able to offer cutting edge products which are highly responsive to the demands of the market. For years, CIV has been committed to selecting varieties that provide high-quality yields with low energy consumption and low environmental impact. CIV is a founding member of the International New-varieties Network (INN), a global association of nurseries that promotes the exchange, enhancement and sale of new varieties in the world’s main productive regions. 


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Russian growers of berries will discuss the berry market outlook at Berries of Russia conference

Bilberries - Russian growers of berries will discuss the berry market outlook at Berries of Russia conference

The 3rd International Conference «Berries of Russia 2020» will be organized by the Russian Berry Union and FruitNews Information Agency on February 27–28, 2020 in Kazan.

The participants are berries breeders and growers, the representatives of nurseries and transform industry, the manufacturers of plant protection and hothouses equipment, traders and retailers, scientific and educational institutions. They will share their opinions and suggestions, evaluate berries production and market outlook, find out the news concerning technologies, berries varieties, etc.

Berries Union joins berries growers and processors and aims to stimulate the development of Russian berries industry, the increase of berries offer and quality improvement.

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New consumer experiences from Grufesa

With 500 ha located in Huelva, Grufesa has earned a solid reputation as a strawberry specialist. However, in recent year it has diversified supply, repeating its success with premium blueberry and raspberry programmes, traded under the Mister Blue and Hanna brands.

Spanish company Grufesa’s first year up and running in the English market has brought a positive balance for the strawberry specialists from Huelva.

“Although we see that the UK is a highly demanding market, we do have all the necessary conditions to meet demand and we are quickly adapting to its requirements,” said manager Carlos Cumbreras.

Due to the strong focus on international exports, Grufesa has developed brands such as Hanna and Mister Blue, whose personality has worked very well in communicating the values of the produce, which is very well accepted by British consumers.

As packaging is a powerful tool to reach the consumer, the company has always been at the cutting-edge of innovation and proposing new formats.

“We’re now getting into new technologies so that the film protecting the berries will be more transparent, making the product more visible,” Cumbreras said.

“Always thinking of the final consumer: what they are like and what they like. We’re interested in bringing them new “consumer experiences”, either in groups or individually.”

Proof of the pudding is last year’s successful LOVE packaging, launched for sweethearts around St Valentine’s Day.

And this year, it is highlighted by the high demand for the COLOR ME interactive container, designed for children to colour in.

With 500 ha located in Huelva, Grufesa has earned a solid reputation as a strawberry specialist. However, in recent year it has diversified supply, repeating its success with premium blueberry and raspberry programmes, traded under the Mister Blue and Hanna brands.

About 30% of the fruit is grown by integrated production, with zero residues.

Always firm in its commitment to environmental stewardship and rigorous food safety, Grufesa will be the first European company to be Food Chain certified through GlobalG.A.P.

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Strong growth in Spain’s berry exports

Despite an 8.7% decrease in the planted area, production in Huelva – Spain’s leading region for berry production and exports – totalled 294,650 tons last season, up 2% on 2014/15, with sales rising 8% to €395.15 million, according to Freshuelva, the association representing Huelva’s strawberry growers and exporters.

Compared to the same period last year, Spanish export volumes for the the first seven months of this year are up 27% in the case of blueberries and 22% in the case of raspberries.

Analysis of Customs’ export data by Fepex, the Spanish federation of associations of producers and exporters of fruits, vegetables, flowers and live plants, shows that for January to July 2016:

  • Strawberry exports stood at 305,066 tons, up 14% on the same period in 2015, and worth €223 million (+34%),
  • Blueberry exports totalled 33,718 tons (+27%) for a value of €248.5 million (+31%),
  • Raspberry exports came in at 27,751 tons (+22%) for a value of €224 million (+34%),
  • Blackberry exports fell 2% to 1,956 tons but with the sales value up 15% to €13.4 million.

Huelva’s berry sales rose 8% in 2015/16

Despite an 8.7% decrease in the planted area, production in Huelva – Spain’s leading region for berry production and exports – totalled 294,650 tons last season, up 2% on 2014/15, with sales rising 8% to €395.15 million, according to Freshuelva, the association representing Huelva’s strawberry growers and exporters.



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Macfrut returns to Rimini in May 2017

Strawberries will be the main star at Macfrut 2017, which takes place May 10-12 in Rimini, Italy.

Strawberries will be the main star at Macfrut 2017, which takes place May 10-12 in Rimini, Italy.

The event Strawberry Days – being held In partnership with leading Italian strawberry producers – will be one of the features of the show.

Other recently announced highlights of Macfrut 2017 include the debut of an organic section, in response to the ongoing growth of this segment in various European countries. Italy is a leading organic fruit and vegetable supplier and intends to focus on this sector to re-launch its exports in North European markets.

Among other new features, the next edition will boast the first Macfrut Gourmet – an area dedicated to artisan businesses in the field of top-quality fruit processing for modern distribution and specialised retail – and also Macfrut in the Field.

The latter is an initiative scheduled to be held May 9, on the eve of the trade fair, and will involve a demonstration of cutting-edge technology in the field.

Italy’s leading strawberry-growing region, Basilicata, will be the partner region for Macfrut 2017, and China the partner country.

Macfrut 2016 drew more than 38,000 participants

The 2016 edition of Macfrut, also held at the held at the Rimini Expo Centre, attracted more than 38,000 participants, up 9% on 2015 and with 30% more participants from abroad.

Macfrut president Renzo Piraccini said there was a significant number of foreign professional visitors from Eastern Europe, Central and South America and Africa.

Cesena Fiera is the organiser of this annual international trade fair for the fruit and vegetable sector.

source: Macfrut ends successfully and will be held again in May 2017