During November's Interpoma, the world's leading trade fair dedicated to apples, Fresh Fruit Portal got the chance to visit an orchard in one of the country's main apple-growing regions, South Tyrol.
The mountainous region in northern Italy is close to the border with Austria and counts both Italian and German as official languages.
The region has around 18,400 hectares of apple orchards, many of which are relatively small family-owned operations covering an average of around two or three hectares each.
With around 5% of South Tyrol's annual production of 910,000 metric tons (MT) corresponding to organic apples, the region represents a quarter of the European Union's total organic production.
More than 90% of the region's apple growers sell their fruit through cooperatives, with the two umbrella organizations being VOG, encompassing 5,200 growers, and Vinschgau, with 1,750 growers.
Leading the Interpoma tour group was Markus Ladurner of the non-profit extensive service Beratungsring, which provides consulting for fruit growers and for integrated and organic production.
Ladurner explained that due to the region's excellent conditions for apple growing and the limited space available, a single hectare of land on an apple farm can fetch up to around one million dollars.
The farm we visited on Nov. 16 was about to finish the harvests for the season, with just small volumes of Pink Lady apples left to be picked. The photos of the rows of Pink Lady apples you can see below had already had three rounds of picking, with the rest due to be completed in the coming days.
Needless to say, the taste of the freshly picked Pink Lady apples was exceptional.
Fresh Fruit Portal was a guest of the Italian Trade Agency, which invited dozens of buyers and international journalists from around the world to the trade fair.