Lemons are one of the most used products in Italy; their origin is uncertain but they probably come from Burma where they still grow wild, and they may have reached Sicily brought by friars, around the 17th century, to become immediately one of the most important productions of the island.
The most famous variety of lemon is the one from Syracuse and is called “femminello” (from the Italian word for female gender), because of the remarkable fertility of the plant which blooms all year round. In Sicily, covering systems for lemon trees have never been installed; however in recent years the qualitative improvement of the product, thanks to new varieties of rootstocks, has made the plant particularly sensitive to weather conditions.Climate change, and in particular the heavy hailstorms that frequently affect Sicily in autumn and spring, cause a lot of damage to plants. Leaves can sustain significant damage from hailstones, leading to medium/large lesions that, combined with the wind, become infected with mal secco (Phoma Tracheiphila), a serious fungal disease that also affects lemon trees.
There are several ways to limit these infections, besides good agronomic practices, and certainly one of the most important is to safeguard the plants with a suitable covering system.
Our know-how, combined with the widespread presence of our technicians in the area, has allowed us to fine-tune the Sikuro Valente system in order to achieve the results that modern farms need: ensure the harvest and bring to market a product preserving all the characteristics of the Syracuse lemon.
Our Valente system can adjust to the planting density used, whose spacing between the rows should not exceed 5 meters in width, with a height above ground of 4.80 meters.
To withstand very strong winds, the positioning of the posts along the row does not exceed 6 meters and the side PRC posts are equipped with a double anchorage. The average length of the rows is about 200 meters, but in some points they extend up to 300 meters.
To enhance the compactness of the system, we provided 8×12 PRC posts with double anchorage as a backup, at about 180 meters. The overall system covers about 7 hectares.
One of the most important requirements of our client was to cover the plants without shading them too much, therefore, we used a net on the top wire that allows a greater passage of light but at the same time protects from hail.
The second problem, represented by the wind, was solved by mounting along the entire perimeter of the system a side net with a 30% windbreaking mesh and we also installed lateral spacers to prevent the mesh from touching the plant.
The plants had been transplanted last June and the system was completed in late summer.
Today we can clearly see the benefits that the Valente system has brought; despite the lowering of temperatures and the strong wind, the plant continues its vegetative growth in an optimal and uniform way, demonstrating that it has not suffered the climatic stress caused by the period.
These results have drawn the attention of other producers and many companies have asked to visit this system, then choosing to rely on Valente to protect their crops.
The future of growing high-quality crops goes hand in hand with Valente systems.