Cultivation and production of Wild Berries
Wild berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, currant, blackberries and gooseberries, are very rustic as they usually develop in the subsoil of woods: this permits to this kind of fresh fruit to adapt to almost any soil, in different cultivation environments as to climate and pedological conditions.
The soil features are not a limit to the cultivation and to the production of wild berries, compared to other kind of fresh fruit traded on the world fruit and vegetable market; in particular the Italian regions and the Appennine ridge with its more or less high hills are favourable areas both for their temperatures and for the rainfalls, even though, in general, cultivations of wild berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, currant and raspberries had a greater success especially in Northern Europe.
When cultivating wild berries, it is really important to have a watering system to balance the lack of water that occurs in some periods of the season: water, in fact, in good quantity, ensures the plant growth during the first years, reducing planting failures and, during the production period, permits to have high production levels with quite big and fruits very good as to quality.
The recommended and most widespread irrigation system in wild berries cultivations is drip irrigation both for the low installation and management costs and for the possibility to nourish the soil and plants with the fertigation technique.
Natural adversities for wild berries usually are patogenous fungi, which cover leaves and runners of the plants of wild berries with a whitish or white-grey mildew and botrytis or grey mould (Botrytis Cinerea) a fruit mould that develops when fruits or flowers are watered with a temperature over 15 degrees.Then there are the so-called phytophagous insects, that is bugs and mites that attack the whole plant and, as well as the direct damage created, transmit viruses. In all the cases above mentioned, it is recommended to intervene through specific acaricide disinfestations or, in case of a production of wild berries with organic farming methods, it is possible to contrast these problems with the biological control.
Despite the roughness of the species of wild berries, it is recommended to avoid cultivation and production of wild berries at too high altitudes: in this case, in fact, there could be problems with the ripening and a blight of plants for extreme lowering of temperatures, above all in spring, during the vegetative awakening. -The maximum altitude limit for the production of this kind of fresh fruit is usually around 800-1,000 m above the sea, even though for strawberries and raspberries it can arrive up to 1,200-1,500 m.
It is always recommended to choose areas well exposed to the sun, safe from strong winds and from late frosts; furthermore, to produce wild berries, it is necessary to choose where to place the cultivations according to the kind of wild berries that will be bedded out, the soil preparation, the irrigation system installation and the support structure if necessary.
The major producer of wild berriesis Russia with more than 400,000 tons produced, followed by Poland, the Usa, Canada and Italy. In Europe, major producers of minor fruits are Poland, Italy, Austria and Germany, with a total production of over 350,000 tons.
Even though the production of wild berries is more linked to the Northern countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, nowadays even in Italy the trade of wild berries in the fruit and vegetable sector is increasing: in italy the area cultivated with wild berries is of about 350 ha (2009 data from FAO), with a specific production of 1,800 tons of raspberries, 850 of currant, 1,500 of blueberries and 92,000 of other kind, among which stands out that of blackberries; the Italian imports of wild berries are around 10,000 tons, of which 250 are exports of wild berries as a fresh product.
The production of wild berries, the imports of wild berries and the exports of wild berries among the European countries in the last decade increased on the whole according to all the indicators: in particular we have seen a consisten development of both the imports and exports of wild berries in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, where they have increased more than proportionally to the production; furthermore, in these countries of the European Union the attempt to mechanize the harvesting of some species of wild berries (in particular blueberries, currant and gooseberry) has given good results.