Nicola Calabrese is a researcher at the Food Production Science Institute of the CNR in Bari. He explained to FreshPlaza that “Turnip greens are a characteristic vegetable from Puglia. It started as a minor Brassicaceae, a humble product. However, it has become increasingly successful and also the industry uses it”.
Turnip greens are an important vegetable in Puglia. It is farmed over almost 3,500 hectares which is more than one-third of the total Italian surfaces devoted to this crop. According to the data provided by ISTAT, the total hectares farmed with turnip greens were 9,814, in 2017.
This vegetable is available throughout the year. Unlike the other Brassicaceae, it can rely on strong genetic variability. Calabrese explained, “Only in Puglia, they listed more than 125 ecotypes which allow us having this product available from fall to late spring – also thanks to different agronomic techniques.
“Most of this local varieties take their name from the length of their productive cycle (forties, hundred-twenties, hundred-fifties), from the holiday seasonality (Natalina, Pasqualina) and from the production area (Fasanese, Biscegilese). These funny names are a demonstration of the producers’ love for these territories, to the point that you can find these same names within seed companies’ catalogues”.
There has been an increased interest in Brassicaceae over the last years, and the turnip greens consumption is as much as the cauliflower or the cabbage one.
“Turnip greens are sold in every intermediary market, in the MMR and in the Horeca channels, and also abroad. The prices depend on the period and the product availability (with peaks of 3.50 euros/kg)”.
“As of now, the 2018/19 campaign does not seem very good: first of all, this because of the temperatures higher than the average which caused the market saturation. At the same time, heavy and persistent rains caused some phytosanitary problems”. We hope that temperatures will keep getting colder so to facilitate sales, especially for the Christmas period when the turnip greens are sold for a good price”.
“This vegetable is successful mainly because of its versatility. It can be used fresh or frozen, but also as a ready-to-eat product. Although it has a limited shelf-life, it can offer an added service to the customer”.