Company expects to sell 250m plants this year from production sites in Spain, Romania and Poland

Anxo Castro Pérez, El Pinar's production director

Anxo Castro Pérez, El Pinar’s production director

Segovia-based El Pinar is expanding its nursery area to meet growing demand for its strawberry varieties. The company expects sales to increase 15 per cent this year to 250m plants. This will require a 12 per cent expansion in its nursery cultivation area in Spain, Romania and, for the first time this year Poland.

Production director Anxo Castro Pérez said the addition of Poland provides “not only a greater plant volume, but also a great diversity of origins and therefore flexibility and minimization of risks when meeting customer demands”.

The nursery’s Primavera, Victory, Inspire and Renewal varieties come from the research programmes of Plant Sciences and Berry Genetics, with which it has been working closely for more than 20 years.

“Victory continues to be the star variety of the nursery, with more than 60 per cent of the total planted area. We have also increased the area of Primavera and Renewal, due of a greater demand for early varieties; also, from Inspire, where the combination of bare root and potted plants becomes more important,” Castro said.

He said a large part of the programme’s success comes from the high rusticity of the material, as well as plant health. “Climate change is setting us a new road map in cultivation, both in nurseries and in fruit production areas, so today rusticity and adaptation to these changing conditions are the characteristics most valued by our clients, in addition to offer customers a clean plant from a health point of view,” Casto explained.

In addition to the usual techniques for soil disinfection such as the use of Metam Sodium, crop rotation and fallow, El Pinar has been developing tests with bio solarisation to achieve effective disinfection without the use of synthetic products, with the aim to adapt to European regulations.

The nursery is also implementing technologies for more effective and efficient crop monitoring and application of inputs and water. “Through sensors at different heights in the soil, we can know the water status of the plant, and thus apply both irrigation and inputs where the root system is located, when it is needed and when they will be assimilated more efficiently,” it said.

Last season El Pinar launched a logistics programme allowing it to supply more than 8m plants per day. “The results were really satisfactory and we will continue to develop improvements in this regard, in addition to investments to achieve greater automation of processes and refrigeration capacity, thus shortening the time that elapses from when the plant is started, manipulated and stored in chambers. ready for the expedition,” Castro said.