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
By Ylenia Granitto
May. 9, 2016 09:21 UTC
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Riccardo Macari, Italy's olive tree pruning champion

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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