Thursday, January 21, 2010

Organic orchards in Argentina

   Javier Legaspi and his partners Enrique Scholz and Leonardo Lustig  own a 200 hectare organic orchard about 75 K from Neuquen.  Javier was kind enough to drive me all through the Rio Negro river valley, showing me several orchards on the way to his beautiful tract.  Most orchards here are irrigated by the old fashioned flood method.  Every week or 10 days the water is diverted from large canals into the tree rows, flooding the entire orchard.  100 years ago this canal was designed by an Italian engineer, Cipoletti.  The town is celebrating his accomplishment this year, and indeed this would still be a desert without his dams and diversion canals.
   Javier proudly showed me his new frost control system, some overhead sprinklers that saved most of his crop this past spring.  Most orchards this year have a 15-30% crop loss due to cold weather and fierce winds.  He is fortunate to have a pretty full crop of pears and apples.  His challenge is to grow consistant large size fruit using the organic requirements.  Most of their crop goes to Brazil or Europe and the price has been good for organic fruit, especially in England.  He is a young man with great hope in the future of organic farming.  We wish him well.

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