South Tyrol is the largest contiguous apple cultivation area in Europe. A total of thirteen varieties of apples are allowed to carry the designation ‘IGP South Tyrolean Apple’: Braeburn, Elstar, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Idared, Jonagold, Morgenduft, Red Delicious, Stayman Winesap, Pinova, Topaz.
South Tyrolean applesare characterized by an intense, juicy flavor and a fresh aroma. They have firm, crisp flesh and a prominent coloring that is typical of the variety. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fruit acids, pectin, and carbohydrates. They constitute a valuable component of our diet and are also low in calories.
A century-old tradition
For many South Tyrolean families, apple cultivation forms the basis of their livelihood, thus constituting an important economic factor in the province.
Soil, trees and fruit are cared for in a protective and environmentally conscious manner. Warm, sunny days and cool nights create the ideal conditions: the considerable temperature differences between day and night during harvest promote the formation of numerous compounds, including fructose.
One contiguous area of cultivation extends to a length of 100 km (62 miles) along the Adige River, from Vinschgau (Val Venosta) to the South Tyrolean Lowlands. But in the Isarco Valley, in the vicinity of Bressanone, the South Tyrolean apple is also right at home. The cultivation elevation ranges between 200 and 1,000 m. (700 and 3,600 ft.) above sea level.
South Tyrol produces around a million metric tons of apples every year, 10-12% of the European and 50% of the Italian production comes from South Tyrol. And with organic production constituting 40% of the harvest, South Tyrol is also the most important organic apple supplier in the European Union.
A total of 93% of the harvest is marketed through cooperatives (of which there are twenty-four). The remainder goes to individual businesses (seventeen companies) or is sold through fruit auctions (three companies). Nearly 50% of the harvest is destined for export, depending upon the marketing season. The main export market is Germany, comprising 30% of all exports. That is followed by Scandinavia, Mediterranean countries such as Spain and Portugal, and the new members of the EU.