The new varieties of this fruit developed by the Murcian research center have produced their first results in the field this year.
More than the shortage of irrigation water, or pests and diseases, the greatest danger for a stone fruit producer in the Region is the market. “The biggest problem these crops face is the profitability of their farms,” says Jesús López-Alcolea, head of Agronomic Transfer and Management of the Fruit Tree Improvement Group of the Segura Center for Soil Science and Applied Biology (Cebas- CSIC).
With the aim of helping the sector to function properly in the market, particularly in the face of the challenges posed by global warming, this research center has been developing apricot varieties for years that this season have begun to show the first results among producers.
Of its characteristics, the agronomist López-Alcolea highlights “the ability to adapt to the climate of our region, due to its low cold needs to flourish”, which allows them to maintain a constant in their annual productions. At this point, he clarifies, “it is increasingly necessary to have varieties of low winter rest, since the trend is towards increasingly mild or non-existent winters and this calls into question the productivity of this species of ‘prunus”, which is the genus of trees that also includes plum, cherry, and peach trees.
Esteban Contreras, one of the first farmers who opted for this variety, defines it, now that it has given its first fruits for growers, as “a wonder of nature.” In fact, the first cebasred apricots were obtained last year, in mid-April, something that had never been achieved and which raised considerable commercial interest. This advance in harvesting of up to two weeks is equivalent to a sure success among consumers, arriving at a time with virtually no competitors.
In addition, they are taxa of good quality and productivity, “essential characteristics for the profitability of this crop”, which make their demand, “at the producer level, very high.” In this way, “proof of income is guaranteed”, continues the agronomist. Another of their advantages: they are resistant to sharka, a virus that almost kills Valencian apricot trees.
In addition to its success in the neighboring community, where “thanks to the varieties resistant to sharka from Cebas-CSIC we have a new resurgence of the apricot tree”, in the words of the specialist Manuel Almenar, from the largest fruit and vegetable distributor in the Mediterranean (Anecoop), these fruits “They have aroused great interest in other countries, such as Italy, Greece and Turkey”, and are already reaching Morocco and shortly even Australia. It is the fruit of research that has been carried out since the 1990s, headed by José Egea at Cebas, and which now has the support of fellow scientist David Ruiz González.