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Keep alive (variety) research

Selecting and testing the best fruit varieties available on the market. This is the task of Granfrutta Zani’s technical office, that in this way identified excellent products such as Metis plums and Pink Lady® apples.

Kiwifruit, pears, apples, plums. And nectarines, peaches, apricots: the range of action of Granfrutta Zani’s technical office is really wide and aims at identifying and selecting the best novelties on the world fruit scene. We asked Giuliano Donati, head of the technical office, to describe their activities and to explain why variety research is so important to a company like Granfrutta Zani.

Giuliano, could you tell us about how research activity on new varieties is carried out? And which is your role?

The starting point are breeders, i.e. farms in charge of selecting and improving fruit varieties. We are constantly in touch with these companies to know and identify new products available at international level that can be successfully grown in our production areas: we regularly visit their fields to find out new varieties and, if we think they are valid, we test them in our farms to observe and better evaluate them. In fact, since the breeder may be from the US, Europe or New Zealand, conditions for cultivating the product can differ from those found in our area.

You mentioned testing. Which kind of tests are used to assess a new variety?

We carry out many tests and every new product is tested for a minimum period of 3-4 years, to make sure that all necessary requirements are complied with. I’m talking about sensorial characteristics, size, colour, resistance to different types of handling, low susceptibility to diseases, brix degrees in line with the requests of large scale retailers and supermarkets, preservation test and shelf life. In a few words, the new varieties have to be good for consumption.

What does it happen once a new variety has passed all tests?

It is included in Granfrutta Zani list of varieties, it is recommended to farms and then placed on the market. In this way, thanks to variety research activities, we selected the Metis plums, the first European club of natural stone fruit, a crossing between an apricot and a plum that we market in Italy on an exclusive basis; and the Pink Lady® apples, that we sell in Europe as official distributors ever since their first release in the market.

How many new products do you select every year?

It depends on the type of fruit: as regards peaches, at least two or three varieties per year. But in general, we select about five-six new varieties every year. We have lots of work to do and this involves not only care for quality, but also the product’s healthiness: the Emilia-Romagna region sets very stringent limits on the use of crop protection products and fertilizers. That is why we can say that Ganfrutta Zani’s products are not only good, but also healthy!

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