How a Cover Sheet Can Make a Difference in Cherry Orchards

In some favorable climatic zones of the Apulian coast, farmers start harvesting covered cherries about 15 days earlier than open-field crops. Usually, the first harvests take place around April 12-13, with prices well above €20.00/kg, quotations which tend to drop gradually thereafter (end of April) until they reach €8.00 /kg. At the same time as the covered harvest is coming to an end, the field fruits are also ripening, but the initial prices for these productions, although high, are paid to producers around €4.00-€6.00/kg, then fall rapidly, as has happened in the past two years.

The price difference between covered and uncovered cherries is due to the lower quality and size of the latter, as well as poor coloring and texture caused by spring weather stresses (such as winds, sudden changes in temperature or direct light).

Covering cherry orchards has therefore become essential, as it not only allows the season to start well in advance, but also secures the harvest and ensures superior quality for customers. One of the solutions on the market capable of guaranteeing these results is the PolyFilm-Ultra covering film from the company Retiplast. A next-generation film capable of filtering solar radiation with targeted physical manipulation of the solar spectrum and an 83% increase in scattered light, as well as an 87% total light transmission level.

Cherry orchard in third year of transplant covered with PolyFilm-Ultra

“The high diffusion of solar irradiation allows us to obtain many agronomic advantages. Among these are the development of progressive heat, optimal control of the temperature inside the cover to avoid blows sun on the fruits and burns on the leaves, the absence of shade and increased photosynthesis, thus favoring a homogeneous vegetative development and fruits of better quality, size, color and texture, as well as an advance in ripening of 15 days. According to what our farmer customers tell us, one hectare of covered cherry trees is equivalent to eight hectares in the open field,” said Walter Ruggia, head of technological innovation at Retilplast, the company that designed and manufactured the innovative sheet.

Covered ventilation aisle

“An additional factor that contributes to earlier ripening is the air circulation regulation system under the cover, an important element for a harvest in terms of quality and quantity. The regulation of the quantity of air at the he interior of the canopy was a problem solved by Retilplast thanks to a state-of-the-art manufacturing process, which allows one of the side reinforcements to be tucked in approximately 50 cm from the edge of the tarp.”

“This technique of integrated reinforcement makes it possible to regulate the circulation of air, since the opening of the central aisle can be adjusted manually between a width of 0 ÷ 100 cm (see catalog pages 14 and 15). Optimal conditions are temperatures to be maintained between 22 ÷ 28 ° C. The most delicate stage is flowering and subsequent fruit set where the ventilation corridor must be completely open to create a fairly dry climate. Even if the tarpaulin of the central corridor is open to facilitate ventilation, the corridor is always protected by anti-hail or anti-drosophila nets, which are connected to the tarpaulin by a sewing technique on its inside reinforcement (see page 13).”

Durability of PolyFilm-Ultra
PolyFilm-Ultra is supplied in accordance with European standards EN 13206 with a high resistance to solar radiation of 500 KLY, corresponding to class E. The film is only used for the months of January, February, March and April, totaling a total exposure of 47.8 KLY (data taken at the latitude of Bari); this results in a shelf life of approximately 10 years. When the cherry harvest is complete, the leaf is collected and stored on the plant, where it is wrapped and protected by the POD, a white protective sheet (see catalog pages 18 and 19).

Plant Cost and Depreciation
The cost of a one-hectare cover plant with Retilplast materials is approximately 70,000 euros. Payback can take place in one year if the installation is carried out in the fourth or fifth year after planting.

Some data from a cherry orchard covered with PolyFilm-Ultra examined in the province of Bari:

planting spacing: 3×5 m – 650 plants/hectare;

distance between stakes: 5×5 m;

post height above ground; 3.20÷4.00m.

Data from a planting with cover completed in the fourth year after planting:

Number of plants per hectare: 650

Production per plant: 12 kg

Production per hectare: 7.8 tonnes

Average selling price: €12.00/kg

Gross sales at the end of the campaign: €93,600.00

2. Data from a planting with cover carried out the fifth year after planting:

Number of plants per hectare: 650

Production per plant: 20 kg

Production per hectare: 13.00 tons

Average sale price: €12.00/kg

Gross sales at the end of the campaign: €156,000.00

For more information:
Retilplast srl
Industrial area, exit A3
84022 Campagna (SA) – Italy
(+39) 0828 45359
[email protected]

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