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EU recognition: 2012
The Protected Designation of Origin is reserved for fruits from the following cultivars of the species 'Opunzia Ficus Indica': 'Surfarina', also called 'Yellow' or 'Nostrale'; 'Blood', also called 'Red'; 'Muscaredda' or 'Sciannarina', also called 'Bianca'. A percentage not exceeding 5% of the local ecotypes of the selections of 'Trunzara' is also allowed.
Among the distinctive features of the 'Prickly pear of San Cono' are the large size of the fruits, the peel with intense and vivid colors, a very delicate perfume and a very sweet flavor. The sweetness and size of the fruit, compared to other Sicilian production areas, appear to be important distinctive parameters since they are related to the typicality of the geographical area. The production area of the 'Prickly pear of San Cono' includes the territory located at an altitude between 200 and 600 meters above sea level, of the Municipalities of San Cono (CT), San Michele di Ganzaria (CT), Piazza Armerina (EN and Mazzarino (CL ).
The particular characteristics of the 'Prickly pear of San Cono' develop thanks to the perfect combination of environmental and human factors that characterize the production area. In fact, the territory is endowed with particular characteristics, such as the altitude and the orographic conformation which represent essential elements in the determination of the particular conditions of intensity and quality of the light radiation, of the alternation of the wetting-drying cycles of the fruit epicarp and of the daily temperature range, especially during the fruit ripening period.
Prickly pear from San Cono DOP
Production specification - Ficodindia dellEtna DOP
The Protected Designation of Origin "Prickly Pear of San Cono" is reserved for Prickly Pear fruits that meet the conditions and requirements established by this product specification.
The protected designation of origin "Prickly pear of San Cono" is reserved for the fruits coming from the following cultivars of the species "Opunzia Ficus Indica" grown in the territory defined in Article 3 of this production specification:
"Surfarina" or "Nostrale" also called Gialla;
"Sanguigna" also called Rossa;
"Muscaredda" or "Sciannarina" also called Bianca;
A percentage of no more than 5% of local ecotypes is also allowed. Selections of "Trunzara" relating to the Surfarina or Nostrale, Sanguigna and Muscaredda or Sciannarina cultivars are considered local ecotypes.
Prickly pear fruits are distinguished in the following qualities:
Quality A (Agostani) if obtained from the first flowering;
Quality B (late or cracked) if obtained from the second flowering;
EXTRA and I as defined by the Codex Alimentarius
B from 105g to 140g (tolerance 5%),
C from 140g to 190g (5% tolerance),
D from 190 g to 270 g (tolerance 5%).
The fruits of "Prickly pear of San Cono" when released for consumption must meet the following characteristics:
- refractometric degree not less than 14%.
- pulp hardness not less than 5 kg / cm2;
1) shades from green to yellow-orange for the Surfarina or Nostrale cultivar, also called the Yellow;
2) shades from green to ruby red for the Sanguigna cultivar also called red;
3) shades from green to straw white for the Muscaredda or Sciannarina cultivar
The production area of the "Prickly pear of San Cono" includes the territory located at an altitude between 200 and 600 meters above sea level, of the following municipalities: San Cono (CT), San Micheledi Ganzaria (CT), Piazza Armerina (EN), Mazzarino (CL ) whose territories are identified by the borders of their respective municipalities.
Proof of origin
Each phase of the production process is monitored by documenting the inputs and outputs for each. In this way, and through the registration in special lists, managed by the control structure, of the cadastral parcels on which the cultivation takes place, of the producers and de-conditioners, as well as through the timely reporting to the control structure of the quantities produced, the traceability of the product is guaranteed. . All persons, natural or legal, registered in the related lists, will be subject to control by the control structure, according to the provisions of the production specification and the related control plan.
- Soil preparation -
The preparation of the soil to be implanted consists in leveling the soil to avoid water stagnations; ripping or breaking the ground; background fertilization with organic fertilizers, phosphate and potassium fertilizers; hole or furrow system.
The plants must be exclusively specialized with planting density from 200 to 650 plants per hectare of cultivated area.
The cultivation forms are: bush - pot - hedge or other type of form of cultivation that may possibly facilitate the cultivation and harvesting operations.
The planting layouts are:
- from 5.00 meters to 8.00 meters between the rows;
- from 1.00 to 6.00 meters along the row.
The cultivation techniques on the ground must not damage the root system of the phycodindians is very superficial.
Work on the ground such as harrowing - milling - surface breakers and chemical weeding are allowed.
Weeding is allowed only with the active ingredient "Gliphosate" and with a maximum of 2 applications per year (one in autumn immediately after harvest and one in spring before fruit stripping).
The cracking must be carried out over a period of time from 10 May to 30 June according to the climatic conditions and the load of the fruits present on the plant.
The phytosanitary defense of the prickly pears of the D.O.P. Prickly pear of San Cono must be carried out according to a schedule of guided and or integrated struggle according to regional plans.
Irrigation is normally carried out with a number of irrigation interventions that varies from a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 4 for each irrigation season. Their number varies according to
several factors, first of all the seasonal trend, temperature and rainfall; we must also take into account other factors such as the age of the plants, the type of soil, the amount of fruit present, the exposure and the altitude where the prickly pear is located.
- Collection -
The harvesting operations, in relation to the seasonal climatic trend, take place from August 20 to September 30 for the first flowering fruits (Augustan) and from September 10 to December 31 for the second flowering fruits (late or shelled).
The fruits must be collected with a thin portion of the cladodo where they are inserted;
they must be intact and without obvious lesions; they must have the characteristics of variety.
The maximum production allowed from is 250 quintals of fruit per hectare of cultivated area.
The harvesting operations must be started, at the beginning of the veraison of the fruits, from August 20 for the Augustan fruits and from September 10 for the late or shelled fruits.
The fruits collected must be subjected to despination and be released for consumption qualified as: despinated fruits.
The production and packaging of the "Prickly pear of San Cono" must be carried out necessarily in the area delimited by Article 3 to prevent the transport and excessive
manipulations can cause injuries and damage to the fruits and dents of their peel, altering the color and brightness that distinguishes them.
Link with the environment
The peculiar characteristics of the protected denomination of origin "Prickly pear of San Cono" are: the large size of the fruit; the skin characterized by particularly intense colors evivi; the particular sweetness; the great fragrance and shelf life; the delicate scent.
The territory in question is endowed with particular soil and climatic characteristics, such as the altitude and orographic information which represent essential elements in the determination of the particular conditions of intensity and quality of the light radiation, of the alternation of the wet-drying cycles of the fruit epicarp and the daily temperature range, especially in the fruit ripening period. The area involved in the cultivation of this product is characterized by low and gentle hills interspersed with small valleys with mostly of origin, medium-textured, deep and fresh soils and with excellent natural drainage and where the sandy component is prevalent on the other components (percentage of sand not less than 50%) and with an average neutral and sub-alkaline pH (pH 6.9-8.1). These valleys are totally open from East to West and this allows the good solar radiation of the land and the wedges coming from the East which favor a mild climate especially in the summer - autumn, during the course of fruit ripening. The warm summer-autumn air is mitigated, even in the hottest hours of the day, by the regular rise in the late morning, by a breeze coming from the west and the north-west which ensures that the temperature never reaches too high levels.
The physical phenomena described above interacting with light radiation are responsible for the formation and evolution of the anthocyanins, responsible for the color of the epicarp of the dificodindia fruits and their pulp. This is associated with the effect of the thermal excursion and the wetting that favor the enlargement of the fruits.
In addition, the presence of cultivation plants along the altimetric belt, combined with the efficiency in the management of the water needs of irrigated land operated by local farmers,
allows in this area the production of prickly pears with a higher weight and higher sugar content than plants in other geographical areas located at lower altitudes. The soils, having a high capacity to retain humidity for long periods of time, ensure that the humidity remains constant in the soil and the plant is able to conclude its production cycle in the best possible conditions without stress and limitations.
The set of environmental factors makes the relationship with the quality of the SanCono prickly pear exclusive. These peculiar factors together with the activity of man, his cultural abilities and the development of practices to safeguard the environment and the socio-productive tradition (including the maintenance of the prickly pear cultivation techniques in respect and protection of the valleys and hills ) contribute to giving the prickly pear of San Cono characteristics recognized by technical-scientific literature and by now consolidated commercial exploitation. Thanks to the foreradication of the rural population in the production area considered, with all its traditional experience, with its cultivation skills handed down from generation to generation, with the continuous research and implementation of traditional and specific cultivation techniques, the conditions have been determined so that the San Cono prickly pear cultivation consolidated over time, up to now, as a historical-traditional and cultural heritage of the whole territory as well as a fundamental economic resource. Great testimony is the traditional Prickly Pear Festival now at the 25th edition, which is a mixture of culture, traditions, commercial promotion and technical-scientific updating with the traditional conferences that are held each year on the Delphic Indian. These results are due to the total cultural, work and economic involvement of the inhabitants of the area in the production process of the San Cono prickly pear, which have contributed to establishing a strong link between the product itself and the environment and in particular, to develop over time sentimental link between the population of the territory and the fruit of inquestion.
In fact, it is man who, in addition to keeping the cultivation techniques unchanged over time, knows the right time to harvest through his extensive experience. In fact, it does not carry out too early a harvest which would lower the quality of the sugars present and would give the fruit that typical taste of cladodo unpleasant to the taste of the consumer, nor does it make a too delayed harvest that would cause a lowering of the organoleptic characteristics of the berries giving them an unpleasant stale flavor but collects at the perfect moment, that is, when the fruits have reached the minimum levels of coloring of the skin, an excellent indicator of the ripening stage, presenting the product with a perfect flavor and fragrance.
There is also a lot of history around this crop. In 1840 the French agronomist De Gasparinvisiting Sicily described the prickly pear thus: "the manna, the providence of Sicily, represented that the banana is for the equinox countries and the bread tree for the islands of the Pacific ocean ..." prickly pear and its transformation into intensive cultivation in the area delimited by art.3 dates back to the mid-seventies of the twentieth century: These are the years in which the Etna tradition was renewed, that of Santa Margherita Belice, which develops on new territories edin which is predominantly affirmed the area of San Cono, whose territory wedged between three large centers: Enna, Caltagirone and Caltanissetta, is today the most important specialized crop production area existing and judged by experts in the sector Italy."
* Prof. Filadelfio Basile (Agricultural University of Catania) in his economic-agricultural survey on the production of prickly pear in Italy (1991) notes that among the important areas for invested surfaces and for production obtainable within the Sicily region: that "(... ..) in the Colline di San Cono, certainly the most important area in terms of surfaces and production ".
* Prof. Oscar Alberghina (University of Agriculture of Catania) in "San Cono (Catania): capital of Italian fig-indiculture (1988) analyzes the situation of Italian fig-indiculture, giving the denomination of" Capitaledella to the area of San Cono prickly pear production in Italy ".
* Professors Barbera G., Inglese P., (Agricultural University of Palermo) in The Cultivation of the Prickly Pear (ed. Edagricole - 1993), a broad and comprehensive treatise on the cultivation of prickly pear in the world, describe San Cono (CT) as the production center more important than Sicilianindiculture.
The control on the conformity of the product to the specification is carried out by a control structure in accordance with the provisions of articles 10 and 11 of the EC Reg. N.510 / 06. This structure is the Control Body Authority CHECK FRUIT S.r.l Via C. Boldrini, 24, 40121 Bologna - Tel. 051.649.48.36, Fax 051 649.48.13
The processed and despined product must be released for consumption in new packaging of various types: wooden, plastic and cardboard boxes and plastic and cardboard trays.
The use of the alveoli is allowed in the boxes.
The dimensions of the packages allowed are: Kg. 0.500 - Kg. 1.00 - Kg. 2.00 - Kg. 2.500 - Kg. 3.00 - Kg. 3.50 - Kg. 5.00 with a maximum deviation of 10 %.
The packages must be sealed with thermo-welding or, in the case of the nets, with metal points so as to prevent the contents from being extracted without breaking the contained container.
According to traditions, the presence of fruits of the three different cultivars of Prickly Pear (surfarina or nostrale ogialla - sanguine or red - muscaredda or sciannarina or white) is allowed
in the same container.
The packaging must bear the logo of the denomination, as shown below and the Community symbol. In addition, the use of the wording "Cactus Pear" and the wording "Fiorone" is allowed only on packages containing fruit weighing between 105 and 130 g. Furthermore, the elements capable of identifying name, company name must appear, address of the packer and net weight at the origin. It is optional to indicate the date of collection of the product.
The identifying logo of the Prickly Pear of San Cono is represented by the wording D.O.P.DENOMINATION OF PROTECTED ORIGIN, from three prickly pear fruits with crown arranged as a hawk over Sicily with five stars and underneath written "Prickly Pear of San Cono".
The colorimetric indices are the following:
Blue: Pantone Refex Blue
Green. Pantone 355