How much wheat has been lost in Emilia Romagna? The equivalent of 200 million kilos of bread -

How much wheat has been lost in Emilia Romagna?  The equivalent of 200 million kilos of bread -

Bad weather in Emilia Romagna destroyed about 30,000 hectares of soft wheat crops, equivalent to the production of 200 million kilos of bread. the estimate of the damages for the flood in Emilia Romagna for the cereal sector by Coldiretti and CAI - Agricultural Consortia of Italy presented on the occasion of the Giornate in Campo 2023. A loss that resizes the estimates on the national production of wheat relating to Emilia- Romagna, with an agricultural area of ​​over one million cultivated hectares, which moreover represents 8% of the Italian agricultural area. to all intents and purposes a cereal district of absolute importance: out of about 570,000 hectares of soft wheat nationwide in Emilia Romagna, 160,000 hectares are sown this year, just under 30% of the entire national area. The flood cost Emilia Romagna a cut in production between 12 and 15% of wheat with the damage concentrated between Forl, Cesena, Ravenna and Faenza and partly in the Bologna and Rimini areas, according to the monitoring of Coldiretti and Cai - Consortiums Agrarians of Italy.

Production grows despite bad weather

The first estimates on wheat production in Italy, despite the bad weather in recent weeks which could significantly affect yields, are positive with durum wheat essential for pasta which could exceed 4 million tons. the estimate for the cereal sector, a few weeks after the start of threshing, by Coldiretti and CAI - Agricultural Consortiums of Italy also presented at the Giornate in Campo 2023. For soft wheat destined for bread-making, despite the damage caused by the flood in Emilia Romagna, the increase on a national scale could be around 10%, while for durum wheat for the production of pasta the increase in production will not exceed 5%, even if much will depend on the uncertain climatic conditions.

Soft wheat on the rise

In any case, yields could be affected by the incessant rains of recent weeks, which should settle at levels of an ordinary year with 70 quintals per hectare for durum wheat and 80 quintals/hectare for soft wheat in the North, between 50 and 60 quintals per hectare in the Centre, and around 30-40 quintals/hectare in the South. The data on areas cultivated with cereals, which were stopped in February according to the Istat survey which does not take into account late sowing in many regions, show that soft wheat stands at just over 572 thousand hectares (+6.2% compared to last year), while durum wheat stopped at almost 1.22 million hectares (-1.6% compared to 2022).

Research and technologies are the best allies

The results of a year of experimentation in 50 varietal fields throughout Italy were then presented. Ferrara, 31 May 2023 – Research and technologies are agriculture's best ally in the fight against climate change, they can halve business costs and simultaneously lead to an increase in Italian wheat yields (up to 10%) and a reduction in products chemicals needed for defense and nutrition (up to -40%). Again during Le Giornate in Campo 2023 in Poggio Renatico (Ferrara), Coldiretti, the Agricultural Consortiums of Italy, Sis-Societ Italiana Sementi and Agronica/Ibf Servizi showed over 1000 companies the results of the over 50 experimental fields managed by the research group around Italy. In the defense sector, the main activity is concentrated on the verification of new solutions to combat the main diseases such as septoria and fusariosis of the ear which, if not well controlled, lead to a significant decrease in quality and quantity of production. In doing this, the applications of innovative products are also compared by applying the forecasting model (DSS) which is based on the real agro-meteorological conditions that can trigger the diseases themselves, with respect to the conventional timing of intervention.

Decreases fertilizer application

In order to optimize the administration of nitrogen, various formulations of nitrogen-fixing bacteria have been studied which aim to supply atmospheric nitrogen to the wheat and therefore save chemical fertilizers, making cultivation more eco-sustainable. This practice can reduce the application of chemical fertilizers to the soil by an average of 30 to 40% with considerable savings also by the farmer, even up to 50% compared to the costs of conventional agriculture. In fertilization plans, great attention must be paid to the content of organic matter in the soil which favors soil fertility by improving its structure and consequently water retention. The technologies alone instead, without the aid of nitrogen-fixing bacteria, according to data collected by Agronica/Ibf Servizi in a two-year period of parcel trials in sites representative of the cultivation of durum wheat in Italy, have demonstrated a reduction of up to 21% on use of traditional fertilizers. Another important issue is the rationalization of water resources. In this regard, the genetic improvement of cereals has laid the foundations for the selection of durum wheat varieties capable of making more efficient use of water resources. Shifting the focus to spring-summer cycle crops, and typically irrigated, open field trials show that the adoption of precision agriculture principles and strategies for the corn irrigation plan result in water savings of up to 12%.

The role of genetics

Genetics can help agriculture and Italian agriculture — which it finds in the seed pole made up of the Italian Agricultural Consortiums and Sis – the Italian Seed Society — the most important reality on the national scene, at the forefront in the search for seeds capable of withstanding effects of climate change. Coldiretti, Consorzi Agrari d'Italia, Sis-Societ Italiana Sementi and Ibf Servizi proposed the results of the more than 50 experimental fields managed by the research group around Italy to over a thousand companies. The cereal sector's search for products resistant to environmental stress and which allow for the stipulation of supply chain contracts with processors is fundamental in this historical period, as also testified by the data on certified seeds which mark, for the first Italian seed pole, a +15% on seeds sold and +6% on hectares cultivated in the last year. With the higher temperatures that have unfortunately become a rule, in fact, on the one hand the need for water increases due to the increase in plant transpiration, and on the other hand the mountain water reserves are reduced, net of serious and extreme phenomena like those of the last days. In this sense, corn and sorghum are more efficient in using water, given that for each molecule of CO2 fixed they consume 150 molecules of H20, while durum and soft wheat consume 400. Great efforts are also being made to improve drought conditions of durum and soft wheat: from the application of the most modern plant improvement techniques, with the use of traditional and more modern greenhouses, called phytotrons, to the placement of experimental fields in environments characterized by water scarcity, as well as in those with high temperatures. The genetic improvement is working on the development of the root system and the coverage of the fast inter-row in order to better conserve soil moisture and improve the efficiency of the use of solar radiation.

The varieties of wheat

In laboratories, wheat varieties are being studied that are increasingly tolerant of heat, capable of immobilizing the collected water and reusing it in times of stress, and of resisting disease. In durum wheat, in particular, varieties such as Core and Claudio prove to be particularly reliable, known for their exceptional rusticity and production stability, which are being joined by the novelties Beltorax and Matusalem. Marco Aurelio (excellent productivity/quality and quantity gluten ratio), Furio Camill (excellent productivity/specific weight and protein ratio) and the novelty Panoramix are particularly appreciated by processors and pasta factories. Among soft wheats, with the development of the well-known Bologna variety, a strong contribution was made to the qualitative improvement of the national grain bank, which can currently count on varieties such as Giorgione for baked goods such as Christmas sweets, Giambologna and ACA360, an important novelty for the technological characteristics of the flours.

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