Garden “From Scratch”: Approaches to Horticultural Business, Investments, and Technologies from “Green Technology LTD”
The enterprise “Green Technology LTD,” located in the village of Baraboy, Ovidiopol district of the Odesa region of Ukraine, is engaged in the cultivation of grapes and peaches of modern varieties of Spanish and Italian selection. At the same time, the owners of the company invest in advanced protection technologies and also use the services of comprehensive agronomic support for foreign companies.
The primary goal of the company is to produce quality products for the consumer in the domestic market of Ukraine. Therefore, the owners of the company from the start of the business decided to organize all work following the best world practice. Firstly, they set up work processes with market analytics to navigate consumer preferences in cultivation and sales markets, and then they began to establish trade relations with reliable partners to realize the future harvest.
Green Technology specialists conducted an EastFruit tour of the company’s fields and talked about the impact of weather risks in horticulture, production technologies used, investments, the difficulties of creating a garden “from a clean field” and shared plans for further development.
Peach seedlings of Spanish selection are well adapted to growing in the south of Ukraine.
On an area of 15 hectares, peaches and grapes are grown, and each crop has 7.5 hectares. The garden was created from scratch. In the Odesa region of Ukraine, there is an advantage over the gardeners of neighboring Moldova due to the proximity of the sea and estuary, which creates a thermostat effect and contributes to better crop cultivation.
Before deciding on the varieties of crops, they did a lot of analytical work, talked with successful producers in different countries, as well as traders selling products of the fresh group.
Before planting seedlings, the founders visited many Italian and Spanish growers and examined their production and farming methods. At the same time, the main goal that they initially set was the cleanliness and proper organization to prevent misgrading, namely mixing varieties during selection.
The first 100 peach seedlings were planted by the owner, manager, and agronomist to work out the teamwork system.
At the beginning of the establishment of the Green Technology garden in April 2020, the first 100 peach seedlings were planted by three people, namely the owner of the company, the agronomist, and the manager of the enterprise. Thus, the company has worked out a system for the further work of horticultural teams.
“We understood the number of people needed to start a garden. In the future, we involved five people in the team, which carried out planting on one row of the garden. To plant four rows, 20 people were involved. Having soaked the soil well with water using an irrigation system, we planted each seedling in a separate pot of peat. By the way, we have worked out the same system when planting grapes, having planted almost 14 thousand seedlings in two days,” says the managing director of the company Alexander Pokholchenko, adding that the garden is equipped with five sections of a “smart” irrigation system.
“For the production of peaches, we purchased seedlings of Spanish selection of early and late varieties, because Spain is one of the world leaders in peach production. As practice shows, peach seedlings in the mild winters of the south of Ukraine tolerate the winter period well. Therefore, there are no risks from the point of view of freezing culture. Our garden was laid out using intensive technology and is designed to receive 40-50 tons of yield per hectare, while in ordinary gardens, it does not exceed 10-15 tons/hectare.
We expect to get the harvest of the early peach variety “Extreme 315” in the second decade of July, and the late variety “Extreme 469” – in the second decade of September. Besides, currently, we have a flat fig peach of the Spanish selection,” says the agronomist of the enterprise Yuriy Zelenchenko.
Peach cultivation is carried out by Green Technology specialists according to the Spanish Leader system. Its essence lies in the fact that the planting of seedlings is carried out at a distance of 1.5 m from each other, and the tree should have an average height of 3.8-4 m and have one trunk. This is a practice of growing technical peaches. This technology has its advantages as the fruit is placed high, and the cold does not get there during flowering. Besides, the speed of maintenance of such a tree increases, in particular, it is easier to prune it. By the way, in Italy, in one shift, one worker removes up to 700 kg of a peach planted using this system.
The manager of the company also notes that when choosing a place for laying a garden, which began on February 19 of this year, they were guided not only by natural and climatic conditions but also by the proximity to settlements. “The people of our village are employed permanently, and 6-7 people go to work every day. Currently, mostly men work, as physically, it is a difficult job. At the same time, the farm manager is at work since 6 a.m., setting tasks, the main of which are tillage, clearing seedlings, installing wire trellises, drip irrigation,” he Yuriy Zelenchenko notes.
Green Technology owns 48 hectares of land. “There are plans to launch another 33 hectares. This year, due to quarantine, we were two months late with planting the garden, as it was impossible to deliver seedlings from Italy due to closed borders. Due to the delay in delivery, we do not have a European tractor, while we use an inexpensive Chinese tractor,” says Alexander.
The manager of the company also adds that in the future, it is planned to build refrigerators for storage and a garage for agricultural machinery on the territory of the garden.
About the features of the season
According to Yuriy Zelenchenko, this season is quite difficult for most winegrowers and gardeners in Ukraine. This is due to difficult weather conditions, namely spring frosts, and prolonged rains in early June negatively affected the development of crops in most farms. Gardeners expect crop shortages for different crops.
Since “Green Technology” at the beginning of the current season just laid new vineyards and peach orchards, the weather anomalies were less reflected in work in the company’s fields. At the same time, the company systematically approached the planning of the entire growing and harvesting process and the process of minimizing risks.
Yuriy Zelenchenko notes three factors of weather risks that affect the horticultural business in the south of Ukraine. The first and most severe is winter frosts, the second is precipitation, and the third is summer hail. To ensure that the harvest does not depend on the weather, the company immediately provided a hail screen.
EastFruit notes that orchards that are not protected from hail have a high risk of crop damage. Support structures for anti-hail and rain netting or sheeting in intensive orchards and vineyards are among the most effective ways to protect future crops. This technology also improves the overall quality of the product, which means getting a higher price and reducing losses during storage. In the conditions of open cultivation, such as grapes, it is unrealistic to obtain quality products, while any rain before harvest can destroy the quality of the product and make it unsuitable for long-term storage. Such grapes can only be sold for processing into grape alcohol very cheaply, which means that you will receive a guaranteed loss.
As for the effect of low temperatures in winter, according to the agronomist of the enterprise, at the moment, gardeners cannot significantly influence them.
“Winter frosts do not negatively affect crops. Instead, frosts significantly damage the soil. However, there are a variety of options to mitigate such a risk. For example, it is possible to use a machine that heats the air and prevents the seedlings from freezing. For the future, I think that we will also cover this risk factor. As for the grapes, we will cover it with a film to minimize the factor of production and natural risks,” says Yuriy Zelenchenko.
The drip irrigation system will help to combat another negative weather factor – summer drought at the enterprise. This system not only contributes to increased productivity but is also one of the essential components of modernizing agricultural production methods to cope with drought and water scarcity. The essence of the irrigation system is that low-pressure gravity systems can be used for various crops. Precise control allows the right amount of water to be dispensed at the base of each plant, maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste.
Agronomic support online from specialists from Spain and Italy helps to introduce modern technologies.
Significant attention in “Green Technology” is paid to production technologies for obtaining a high-quality harvest of peach and grapes.
Yuri Zelenchenko notes that they plan to use Italian technology in the vineyards, the so-called ceiling trellis, which is ideal for the production of table grapes. The use of this technology can increase the yield by 10-15%. In this case, the vine has a height of about 2 m, and from each of them, 3-5 pagans begin to grow in a horizontal position and rest on a grid with a cell of 50 by 50 cm made of wire fixed on supports.
“Why did we come to this decision? The fact is that the sun’s rays during the ripening period of grapes burn large bunches and the products in the future can only be sent to processing, and not to the fresh market. In the case of using a trellis, the bunch will be protected by a horizontal arrangement, and the influence of sunlight on it will be much less. However, for me, as an agronomist, the question remains unclear how the grapes will winter on such a trellis. Indeed, some farms still use a covering culture in preparation for winter to eliminate the risk of freezing. I hope that with the intensification of the global warming process over time, we will eliminate such risks,” says the agronomist.
Green Technology also uses the consulting services of foreign specialists in agro-technological support. “I have education and experience in gardening and viticulture, but this is not enough. When we bought seedlings from Spanish and Italian nurseries, the necessary condition was the accompaniment of an international consultant. Today, on-line, they deal with issues of agricultural technology support. By the way, these people had to come to us to help solve key moments, such as the process of planting and forming. However, due to the current situation related to the global coronavirus pandemic, all consultations are carried out online. I send them photos and videos in the messenger and receive recommendations according to what I saw,” says Yuriy Zelenchenko.
“Our task is to make Ukraine a serious producer of peaches and table grapes, and for this, we need to collect the most powerful horticultural technologies in the world.”
Today, the main task is to get the first harvest in the established vineyards and peach orchards. In the future, a decision will be made to expand the crops.
“These will either be new varieties of table grapes or an increase in the number of varieties of peaches, or we will grow plums. In the beginning, we also wanted to start growing Belgian cherries, but we have refused for now. Our task is to collect the most powerful horticultural technologies in the world. The climate allows us to do this as there is irrigation, the borders are open, so why not use the experience that we already have,” says the agronomist.
Initially, Green Technology LTD focuses on the volume of the domestic market and establishes links for the sale of future products.
As you know, the players of the fruit and vegetable market should also remember that the production process falls into the cost part of the enterprise, and profit is possible only at the stage of product sales. Therefore, when planning any business, you need to “go from market demands,” know who your customer is and engage in marketing from the very beginning.
In the fields of Green Technology LTD, EastFruit saw consistency and manufacturability in approaches, the correct selection of varieties and agronomic support, the use of the latest technologies from the first stage of growing the future harvest of grapes and peaches.