Italy Crowns Pruning Champ

Olive tree pruning is an ancient craft, and skilled pruners can have a major effect on a farm's quality and yield. In Italy, the importance of proper pruning is highlighted at an annual competition.

Riccardo Macari, Italy's olive tree pruning champion
May. 9, 2016
By Ylenia Granitto
Riccardo Macari, Italy's olive tree pruning champion

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The 14th national cham­pi­onship of olive tree prun­ing was held at an exper­i­men­tal farm in Montopoli di Sabina (Latium). Sixty par­tic­i­pants, selected through regional com­pe­ti­tions com­peted, with saws and pole pruners, trimmed three plants, each within 30 min­utes.

The com­pe­ti­tion was orga­nized by ASSAM in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Nova Agricultura, Latium Region and the Regional Agency for Development and Innovation of Agriculture in Latium Arsial.

The jury, chaired by Franco Famiani and com­posed by Barbara Alfei, Salvatore De Angelis, Luciano Pollastri and Antonio Montinaro, eval­u­ated the per­for­mances based on five para­me­ters: the num­ber and shape of the peaks, bal­ance and dis­po­si­tion of pri­mary branches, num­ber and dis­po­si­tion of sec­ondary branches, veg­e­ta­tive-pro­duc­tive bal­ance and con­for­mity to the ideal shape.

Riccardo Macari, Italy’s olive tree pruning champion

The pres­i­dent of the sci­en­tific com­mit­tee, Giorgio Pannelli, led spec­ta­tors to a bet­ter knowl­edge of the struc­ture of the poly­conic vase and the man­age­ment of the olive grove, through demon­stra­tions in the field.

Riccardo Macari, 30 years old, was the win­ner. An olive oil taster, agri­cul­tur­ist, pro­fes­sional olive tree pruner, farmer and food and wine guide, Macari started to prune when he was only 13 years old.

Judges of Italy’s national pruning championship

This award is a great sat­is­fac­tion,” he said, adding that he was seek­ing pro­fes­sional expe­ri­ence abroad to enrich my knowl­edge at inter­na­tional level.”

Another young pruner, Gioele Gaspari, 19, won in the com­pe­ti­tion cat­e­gory ded­i­cated to schools fin­ished sixth over­all. Gaspari attends the Technical Agricultural Institute in Pesaro (Marche) and started to prune only last year. I am so glad of this award and now I want to start a real pro­fes­sion in olive grow­ing and prun­ing,” said the young cham­pion.

Gioele Gaspari

The out­stand­ing bio­di­ver­sity that embell­ishes land­scapes of the Italian penin­sula has its own yearly show­case in the National Exhibition of Monovarietal Extra Virgin Olive Oils. Organized by the Marche Agri-Food Sector Service Agency ASSAM and the Marche Region the event has become a ref­er­ence point on the chem­i­cal and sen­sory char­ac­ter­is­tics of extra vir­gin olive oils obtained from native vari­eties.

The pres­i­dent of the sci­en­tific com­mit­tee of the event and panel leader, Barbara Alfei, noted, 540 offi­cially rec­og­nized vari­eties rep­re­sent a real trea­sure for Italy and our goal is to exalt and draw atten­tion on the pecu­liar­i­ties of every cul­ti­var. Our objec­tive is going beyond the qual­ity that pro­vides the min­i­mum require­ments of extra virginity…and show the iden­tity of the prod­uct, which is real­ized by the insep­a­ra­ble cou­pling of vari­ety and ter­ri­tory.”

On April 23 and 24 in Ascoli Piceno (Marche), 48 com­pa­nies from all Italian regions pre­sented EVOOs selected by the regional panel ASSAM. The exhi­bi­tion included debates and updates for tech­ni­cians, pro­duc­ers, expert tasters and con­sumers, along with the 9th edi­tion of a Guess the vari­ety’ com­pe­ti­tion, seen as an incen­tive to rec­og­nize the dif­fer­ent sen­sory pecu­liar­i­ties.

Each vari­ety gives a spe­cific extra vir­gin olive oil with regard to ana­lyt­i­cal para­me­ters, which means its com­po­si­tion in fatty acids and polyphe­nols but above all sen­sory attrib­utes, that pro­vide the con­sumer a per­cep­tion of this mul­ti­fac­eted bio­di­ver­sity,” Alfei explained.

The sam­ples received each year have been used to cre­ate a data­base that cur­rently con­sists of over 2,600 extra vir­gin olive oils, to char­ac­ter­ize mono­va­ri­etals and ana­lyze the effects of geno­type, ter­ri­tory and sea­sonal pat­tern on their ana­lyt­i­cal and sen­sory com­po­si­tion. This year, 308 sam­ples were sub­mit­ted from 18 regions, of which 241 from 94 vari­eties will be included in the data­base.


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