A focus on organic apple growing at the Interpoma Congress
The first part of the second day of the traditional “The Apple in the World” congress, held at Interpoma on 15 and 16 November, will be devoted to the future of organic production. Fritz Prem from the Europäische Bioobst Forum offers us an interesting preview
“Sustainability in Apple Production: Organic and Integrated Production” is the title of the morning session of “The Apple in the World” on November 16. This biennial international congress is held during Interpoma, the only international event devoted solely to apples, which will be taking place at Fiera Bolzano from November 15‒17 this year.
The congress will explore a number of different issues affecting modern apple production and its prospects, both from an agronomic and a technological standpoint. More specifically, the talks during the morning session on day two will primarily be examining organic and integrated production. Fritz Prem from the Europäische Bioobst Forum (European organic fruit forum) will give the opening talk. Today, just a few months away from the eagerly awaited Interpoma show, he tells us about organic apple production and its prospects for development.
“On a global scale, Europe and North America are the markets experiencing the biggest growth in organic production,” he explains. “Sustainability, protection of resources, and ecological responsibility are not yet strong points in other areas of the developed world. When looking at Europe in particular, Germany and France absorb the largest quantities of organic apples. However, the organic apple markets are also developing well in Scandinavia, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, and, more recently, Spain.
In terms of production, Italy leads the field in Europe for organic apples (with the highest conversion rates in Alto Adige), followed by Germany and Austria.”
Prem also takes the opportunity to provide some important agronomic information, explaining how: “In organic production we need robust, vigorous varieties. What’s more, apples are a long-term investment, since it takes several years before production can be converted to organic. The most suitable varieties for organic production include Topaz, Bonita and Natyra, which are resistant to apple scab, but Gala and Pinova are also achieving good results in this sense.”
“Organic production is currently on the up in countries with the highest purchasing power,” continues Prem. “These are the markets where we are seeing the organic sector leave its niche position behind and become attractive to bigger swathes of consumers. In fact the organic sector already accounts for more than 10% of the total sales volume in Austria and around 5‒7% in the most important markets, where it is continuing to rise. This demand is also helping to boost the organic conversion rate in the field of production.”
Last but not least, Prem dwells on the future of the organic apple growing market and on the challenges that lie ahead. “Throughout Europe,” he concludes, “we are seeing very strong development in the field of organic research and testing. Expertise is expanding very rapidly among producers and this process is being accelerated by international knowledge sharing, which is helping to resolve problems linked to production. Furthermore, the vitality and robustness of the plants have become important characteristics in the new growing programs: new and better varieties should therefore become available at regular intervals. Soil management looks set to be a major challenge for organic production: the interaction between working the land, greening, warming, aeration, mineralization, and evaporation will play an increasingly fundamental part.”
“The Apple in the World” congress will take place from November 15‒16 at Interpoma, Fiera Bolzano.