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BERRYPLANT: focus on BREEDING and QUALITY. The R&I program of this Italian Rubus propagator, presents its latest result: the new primocane raspberry Primalba! Berryplant’s effort in the selection of new varieties of raspberry has been growing for the last years, as it has become clearer and clearer that breeding was the future of berry market. Its 25 years’ experience in berry propagation has obviously been an excellent starting point to begin, back in 2006, selecting plants to fulfil the needs of fresh consumption market. “Growers are looking for fruits with a bright red color and a long shelf life and, at the same time, for plants with low managing requirements, able to guarantee also lower labor costs”, explains Diego Ioriatti, the breeding manager and co-owner of Berryplant. Keeping this clearly in mind, Berryplant developed in the past years two patented varieties, Amira and Regina, which are yet among the most profitable cultivars especially for certain markets. “But we wanted to do something more”, continues Diego. “And here comes Primalba! It is a primocane raspberry that we selected primarily for its early ripening characteristics.” It is, in fact, at the moment, the earliest ripening on the market, about 6/8 days before Polka, which is still considered a benchmark. Since the first tests in their greenhouse in Baselga di Pinè (an area of Trentino, Italy, historically devoted to berries production), its ripening timing has been considered very stimulating, in particular for cultivation in Northern climates. After the first year of actual production, its good results seem to be greatly confirmed. “Growers could start harvesting just 85 days after planting!”, says Diego, proudly, “And this is so promising because it could theoretically fill up the production gap between floricane and primocane productions, when fruit prices are higher as product availability is really low.” What came out from this first harvest of Primalba, is that this plant has many other qualities which growers could widely appreciate: it requires few managements, because the plant is very compact and has short laterals, water requirement is low -making it less sensitive to water stress – and no sensitivity to main fungi and mites is known. Talking about the fruits of Primalba: they’re good looking and flavor is excellent; shelf life is good and they can be harvested even when not completely ripe – leading to very fast picking and high quantities-. “The upcoming season we’re planning to test the new variety also in hot climates to understand if Primalba could be a good deal also for growers in Spain, Portugal or Morocco, who represents an important market; nevertheless, new materials are raising from the breeding program and few new selections, maybe even more suitable for these areas, are in the process of advanced trials to some of our clients as a collaboration”. “Concentrating on breeding does not mean forgetting about the basis of our business, which is propagating and selling quality plants.”, interrupts Maddalena Grisenti, the owner and founder of Berryplant, “We accustomed our clients to a very high-quality standard. And we do not want to disappoint them.” In practice, it means that Berryplant is carrying on a 3 years’ control on the plants it’s propagating, starting from a certified pre-basic material, free from pest and diseases, and continuing with a 2 years pomological and phytosanitary control on the mother plants. “We’re known as Rubus specialists (and we proudly declare it in our logo!), so what customers expect from us, is to receive the best Rubus plants, in terms of innovation and quality.” Going back to breeding, research is not limited to raspberry as Diego and Maddalena do strongly believe that blackberry has a great potential, too: “Its success on the market at the moment is limited because there are no good blackberries in the supermarket. This is the reason we’re working hard to select a blackberry cultivar that gives fruits with excellent traits to be profitable for the growers, such as great quality and shelf life brought by hard plants with broad resistance basis. And we’re confident to gather the first results within 3 years now.”

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