"Soilless cultivation of table-grapes means we can start producing much quicker than with normal techniques. Because it is a new experience, we are cautious, but we believe in this type of cultivation," says the F.lli Lo Giudice company located in Gela (Sicily), which has two soil-less cultivation modules with a pearlite and coir substrate for tomatoes (two consecutive seasons) and table grapes.

"In regards to grapes, we have started cultivating the Victoria, Black Magic and seedless varieties this way only this year. It is a little known method that we are trying out thanks to the technical and scientific assistance of Dr. Carlo Gambino and professor Rosario di Lorenzo from the University of Palermo," explains Antonio Lo Giudice (in the photo). The project is entirely funded by the company.

"At the moment, Victoria and Black Magic are the better known on the market, but we believe that seedless grapes will become more popular in the future, especially in Northern Europe."

"We also produce classic Italia table grapes under tents, and we cover the vines in order to hasten the campaign, so that we can have excellent table grapes in August. Obviously we use all of the suitable cultivation techniques to reach the best quality."

The entire production is marketed by the company, "Therefore we try to diversify the production period too, so that we can stay on the market longer and with more products. We must say that the early grape market is the most profitable."

The soil-less table grape campaign began in March and started producing in July, a little later than usual.

"In March we also planted some vines that are now lignifying for the campaign that will start in December. It will be the first year we will sell this type of cultivation. We will be able to make an assessment in May 2014."

As regards traditional table grapes, and the Italia variety in particular, it was already possible to harvest before August 15th. Nonetheless, the company waited because of the period of stall in both commerce and harvesting. "We are a month and a half late with respect to our usual production. Of course this meant higher management costs, because we had to cover the vineyard again to protect it against bad weather."

Antonio explains why he thinks this year started badly also at a price level. "It is all due to a delay of the Victoria variety, because it was at least a month late and reached an excellent quality. The problem was we had both Victoria at low prices and Italia, whose price might barely cover production costs. The fluctuation in prices affects both producers and consumers."

Antonio concludes that "growers have to deal with weather and production problems as well as cultivation mistakes because they are part of the job. The main challenge is at a commercial level though: a minimum threshold must be guaranteed to producers and all of the non-essential passages that still exist between producers and consumers should be avoided."

Antonio Lo Giudice
Società agricola semplice F.lli Lo Giudice

Gela (CL)
Tel./Fax: (+39) 933 909401
Cell.: (+39) 345 3570552 / 337 955105
Email: societalogiudice@virgilio.it