Chelčicko — Lhenické ovoce (Chelčicko-Lhenicko fruit)
CZO Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce is a group of temperate fruit intended for direct consumption and for preserving, which is produced in the Czech Republic. Preserved fruit is not labelled as ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’. It comprises pome fruit, stone fruit and soft fruit. The taste of the local fruit is full, vigorous, with a rich range of fruit elements, which have a residual aspect. The specific characteristics of this fruit (such as its lushness, vitality and compactness), from the point of view of both smell and taste, derive mainly from the local natural conditions (e.g. difference between daytime and night-time temperatures during the ripening period, morning mists in the growing area). Fruit from the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area surpasses other areas in specification, by a natural balanced proportion between sugars and acids. This ideal ratio generates the so-called clean tones of the fruit. The overall impression is one of lushness, a mild taste, a delicate echo, which produces a long-lasting rich sensation. This quality applies to all types of fruit presented under the name ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’ and is specific to this area. Above all, it concerns these products: apples, sweet cherries, sour cherries, plums, currants (Ribes).
Currently cultivated varieties:
Apple — Julia, Angold, Šampion, Rubín — Bohemia, Rubinola, Topaz, Jonagold — Jonagored, Jonaprince, Golden Delicious, Idared, Melrose, Spartan;
Sweet cherry — Burlat, Karešova, Vanda, Sam, Těchlovan, Kordia, Napoleon;
Sour cherry — Morellenfeuer, Érdi Bötermö, Fanal, Morela pozdní;
Plum — Čačanska rana, Čačanska lepotica, Čačanska najbolja, Stanley, Domácí velkoplodá;
Redcurrant — Holandský červený, Heinemann pozdní, Losan, Rubigo, Rondon;
Blackcurrant — Otelo, Öjebyn.
Orchards spreading over the Bavorov Basin — Chelčicko and the Blansko Forest foothills — Lhenicko. ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’ is grown exclusively in this area (Czech Republic, South Bohemia Region, districts of Strakonice and Prachatice). These areas comprise the following municipalities: Chelčicko: Chelčice, Truskovice, Libějovice, Vodňany, Krtely, Malovice, Bavorov, Tourov; Lhenicko: Lhenice, Vadkov, Mičovice, Jáma, Hoříkovice, Třebanice, Hrbov, Vodice, Třešňový Újezdec, Horní Chrášťany, Dolní Chrášťany, Ratiborova Lhota.
Method of production:
All fruit is grown in accordance with the principles set out in the guidelines for integrated fruitgrowing systems, which were also drafted with the participation of local fruit-growers. The components and procedures of SISPO integrated production are as follows:
— Planting: compromise between the resistance and market quality of the fruit. Selection of variety according to temperature, rainfall and ripening and harvesting times. Selection of rootstock according to soil conditions, and type and intensity of planting.
— Protection against diseases and pests: a combination of natural and chemical protection. Prevention. Biological protection. Insectivorous birds. Introduction of natural predators. Physical and biotechnical methods and agricultural techniques appropriate to the area concerned (soil cultivation, fertilising, training and pruning). Balance of plants, decrease in occurrence of diseases and pests. Chemical protection kept to a minimum. If necessary, chemical preparations with low toxicity, tested and permitted pesticides, zoocides and fungicides are applied. Selective chemical protection, only those pesticides which eliminate pests and do not harm useful animals. Pest traps. Prediction of occurrence of diseases and pests. Records of checks and applications.
— Soil cultivation system: orchards are grassed over (60-70 % of surface), with various grasses being combined. The growth is mown, particularly prior to harvesting. The grass is often left lying on the spot or formed into strips. In the event of lower rainfall, generally of less than 600 mm a year, shallow soil cultivation is used, to a maximum depth of 4 cm.
— Weed control: weeds are kept below the level at which they can cause damage. Application of permitted herbicides only at suitable times, maximum once a year, no later than 80 days prior to harvesting of pome fruit and 50 days prior to harvesting of stone fruit. Soil cultivation on suitable terrain. Weeds are cut back. The areas around the trunk are mulched, i.e. organic material or coloured film is laid on the soil surface.
— Irrigation of orchards: water which does not adversely affect the state of health of people or animals in the area, the soil, the quality of the surface water or groundwater and other components of the environment is used for irrigation. A check on irrigation water is carried out at least once a month.
— Fertilisation of orchards: the soil must have a balanced proportion of elements and compounds for growing the types and varieties of fruit. The proportion affects the state of health of the trees, and the quality and quantity of the fruit. Fertilisation is carried out on the basis of the difference between measured and recommended values of elements and compounds for the given type and variety of fruit. There is no fertilisation for a certain period before and after harvesting. Records of fertilisation and yields are kept.
— Check for contamination: in particular, heavy metals in soil, irrigation water, fertilisers and fruit are monitored. The values of possible contamination of fruit are measured from sufficiently large samples.
— Physiological state and equilibrium of fruit trees: agricultural measures (pruning, soil treatment, fertilising and control of the number of developing small fruits, etc.) are adapted according to the quantity, period and duration. The equilibrium of orchards is not disturbed. Physiological equilibrium is assessed by soil analyses and checks on fruit. A subjective check is generally performed five weeks prior to harvesting. Growth of shoots, stalk, size, illumination and the external appearance of the fruit are assessed. The objective is fully developed fruit with a balanced content of valuable materials — sugars, acids, vitamins and mineral and aromatic substances.
— Control of fruit tree productivity and fruit quality: trees are regularly pruned in order to achieve the optimum crop quantity. Crop reduction is carried out, either by hand or using one of the permitted chemical preparations in doses below the limits.
— Principles for training and pruning fruit trees: pome fruit is grown in single lines in order to allow the use of machinery. The trees are pruned at the recommended times and in the recommended manner, depending on the type and variety of fruit.
— Check on compliance with the principles of integrated fruit-growing systems. All fruit types are pruned twice a year and are treated with chemicals during the growing season according to the incidence of diseases and pests in a specific orchard in a specific year. All applications of chemicals are based on measuring and monitoring of the incidence of the type of harmful agent concerned. Applications are carried out only when the economic damage threshold is exceeded. All orchards are grassed and the grassed areas are regularly mown. The areas around tree trunks are kept free of vegetation with the help of herbicides. Only some sweet-cherry plantations are entirely covered with grass.
Another specific feature of the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area lies in the fact that the general SISPO techniques are specifically applied to the area concerned and products (e.g. for pest extermination) have been specifically developed for the area. Growing techniques for individual types of fruit:
Apples: Apples are grown in open areas on non-waterlogged sites and on sites not constituting frost basins. Slightly more vigorous-growing rootstock is selected for apples since there are insufficient free nutrients in the soil at the altitude of the growing area and the trees must be able to acquire the nutrients partly by themselves. Rootstocks M1, M4 and A2 were used in the past, while M9 is the most commonly used nowadays; small trees are provided with support in the form of an individual stake, or a wire screen to which each tree is tied. The spacing of the small apple trees grown is influenced by many factors and a large number of variations can therefore be found in the area. Spacing is influenced mainly by the grower’s equipment, the site, the type of rootstock and the growing shape. Former practice consisted mainly in strip-planting of free-growing dwarf trees, which are now being replaced by more closely-spaced spindle-shaped trees. On account of the humidity of the air as well as the general humidity of the area, orchards are irrigated only in isolated instances by a few growers. The harvest is carried out according to a strict schedule — the apples are packed in large-capacity boxes, which are labelled on the spot in the orchard after being filled with the picked apples and are transferred to an air-conditioned store as swiftly as possible.
Sweet cherries: Sweet-cherry trees are grown mainly on sunny, dry sites with a low water table. They were formerly grown on bird-cherry rootstock in the form of free-growing standard or half-standard trees planted sufficiently far apart to allow the tree to be harvested on all sides from a ladder. Nowadays new plants are grown on PHL or Gisela rootstock at shorter distances from one another and the crowns of the trees are maintained by being cut into a flatter and lower shape. The cherries are harvested according to a strict schedule into transport or sales packaging and, after being labelled in the orchard, are transferred to the store as swiftly as possible in order to be cooled, prepared for marketing and dispatched to customers.
Sour cherries: Sour cherries are grown on sites with a less abundant natural supply of nutrients and on naturally drier sites. They are grown in strips at distances which allow mechanical harvesting. The rootstock for sour cherry is mainly mahaleb cherry and the shape of the tree is adapted to mechanical harvesting. The fruit is harvested into transport or sales packaging and, after labelling in the orchard, is transferred to the store as swiftly as possible for cooling, or to the preserving plant for further processing. It is also dispatched from the store for further processing after completion of deliveries. Only some of the sour cherries are picked by hand and consumed in the fresh state. The procedure is subsequently the same as for sweet cherries.
Plums: plums are mainly grown as half-standards in strips on sites with a sufficient supply of water in clayloamy soils. A whole range of rootstock is used for plums, but myrobalan is most common. The tree shape is usually a free-growing crown allowing mechanical harvesting where appropriate. Of the fruit picked, around half is intended for consumption in the fresh state and around half for preserving. The whole growing process is therefore adapted to mechanical harvesting. The fruit is mainly harvested into packages for transport and, after being labelled in the orchard, is transferred to the store for cooling and further market preparation. fruit intended for industrial processing is transferred from the orchard to the store for cooling and completion of deliveries, or direct to the preserving plant for further processing.
Redcurrants and blackcurrants: They are grown in soils well supplied with water, fertile and deep, generally in lower-lying areas, but not actually in frost basins, although they are the most frost-resistant of the fruits grown in the area. Large areas of currants are established as strip plantations of small plants grown from rooted cuttings. The distance between plants is determined by the cultivation and harvesting technique and technology. There are now just a few isolated currant bushes that are suited only to handpicking. Harvesting is carried out almost exclusively by machine and the fruit is processed further in the preserving plant. Only some of the fruit is hand-picked for direct consumption in the fresh state or for culinary use by small consumers. Mechanical picking is carried out with the aid of selfpropelled harvesting equipment which packages the fruit for transport; after the packages are filled and labelled in the orchard, the fruit is transferred to the store as swiftly as possible for cooling and completion of deliveries to customers.
Storage and packaging: Storage and packaging takes place within the defined area. In this way, it is possible to avoid damaging the harvested fruit, which goes straight from the growing area to the store. This approach also guarantees that the fruit is not mixed with fruit grown elsewhere. This coordinated process of growing, storing and packaging in one place means that the fruit does not deteriorate.
The Chelčicko-Lhenicko area and the fruit which is grown there stand out not only within the Czech Republic but also within Europe. This is corroborated by the following points in particular: the reputation, the factors influencing the unique properties of ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’ and other specific characteristics, and the link between the properties of ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’ and conditions in the area according to the type of fruit.
Fruit–growing in the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area boasts a 700-year tradition. The long tradition and the quality of the local fruit have earned the area the epithet ‘the garden of southern Bohemia’. fruit appears in the coat of arms of the municipalities of both Chelčice and Lhenice. Evidence of the history and reputation of fruit-growing in the area is to be found in the book Lhenice, zahrada Jižních Čech by Václav Starý a kol. The reputation of ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’ is further demonstrated by the annual flower festival and fruit festival organised in collaboration with the Union of fruit-Growers of South and West Bohemia. The flower festival is a tourist and cyclotourist initiative held at the start of the fruitgrowing season when the fruit trees spring back into life, come into bud and blossom. The fruit festival is a prestigious event lasting several days and among the most important initiatives focusing on fruit-growing in the Czech Republic. It consists of a fruit exhibition combined with an evaluation, a fruit fair and a cultural and sports programme.
Proof of the exceptional quality of ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’ lies in the substantial appreciation expressed at national exhibitions, e.g. Zahrada Čech – Litoměřice, and in addition growers successfully participate not only in that exhibition but also in other exhibitions organised at national level: Hortikomplex – Olomouc, Země živitelka – České Budějovice, Zemědělec – Lysá nad Labem. Growers of ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’ are grouped together within the Unie ovocnářů jižních a západních Čech (Union of fruit-Growers of South and West Bohemia), which is involved in, inter alia, educational and awareness–raising activities, promotion of fruit, organisation of exhibitions, publishing, and fruit quality and environmental issues. The local action group Rozkvět zahrady jižních Čech also exists in the area. Growers from the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area work together with many leading research institutes and educational establishments, e.g.: University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice — Faculty of Agriculture, Mendel University of Agriculture and Forestry in Brno — Faculty of Horticulture in Lednice, Research and Breeding Institute of Pomology Holovousy Ltd, SEMPRA, Agricultural Engineering Research Institute — Prague, Agricultural Economics Research Institute — Prague, Crop Research Institute, Food Research Institute Prague, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Biola Biological Laboratory. The success of this cooperation is demonstrated on the one hand by the development of new growing techniques and on the other by the use made of those techniques in growing fruit in the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area, which also contributes to the nationwide reputation of ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’.
Fruit grown in the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area is fundamentally influenced by the specific nature and climate of Podšumaví between the Bavorov Basin and the Blansko Forest foothills. In the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area there is a system of fishponds, rivers and streams. It is precisely this type of landscape that creates the climatic conditions which favour fruit cultivation, e.g. amount of rainfall, soil moisture, alternation of daytime and night-time temperatures, frequent morning mists. Features of the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area are:
— fairly high altitude, situation in the Šumava foothills,
— clean air, mainly on account of the absence of polluting industry and the abundance of forests,
— average annual temperature of 8,7 °C,
— average annual rainfall of 607 mm,
— average monthly relative air humidity of 75,8 % — this level is very high, the humidity providing moisture in summer and coating trees with hoarfrost and limiting freezing in winter,
— considerable differences between daytime and night–time temperatures, especially during the harvesting period,
— frequent morning mists, generated both by the fishponds and by the basin features of the area, which is partially bounded by mountains,
— sufficient soil moisture, to which both the rainfall and the dense network of fishponds and watercourses contribute,
— later arrival of spring and later ripening, on account of the foothill conditions,
— good soil composition, particularly as regards minerals.
The chief specific characteristic of ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’, namely its balanced ratio of sugars to acids, derives mainly from the local climate, i.e. alternating temperatures, later arrival of spring and later ripening, and from the soil, i.e. balance of pH, of individual minerals and of the ratio of different minerals. According to laboratory analyses carried out, the average acidity of the fruit achieves optimum levels. The positive results, which do not occur as a matter of course in every fruitgrowing area, were also confirmed during soil analyses. Other specific characteristics of ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’, such as the smell, taste, lushness, longlasting freshness and uniqueness of the colour tones, are attributable mainly to the special microclimate, which is generated by the above-mentioned conditions (forests, fishponds, fairly high altitude, humidity, mists, etc.).
A significant factor which influences the quality of ‘Chelčicko-Lhenické ovoce’ is the very low level of contamination of the environment by heavy metals and, consequently, the level of contamination of the fruit, which is well below the limit. Biological protection of the fruit trees is a further contributing factor. In the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area, fruit trees are protected mainly through the use of biological means. These are environmentally friendly and have indisputable advantages over chemical means of protection. The area is a centre for the development of biological means of protecting plants and trees in the Czech Republic. A further particular feature of the Chelčicko-Lhenicko fruit–growing area lies in the diversity of its produce as compared with other fruit-growing areas. Another important attribute of fruit-growing in the Chelčicko-Lhenicko area is the SISPO integrated method, which was also drawn up with the participation of fruit-growers from the area. This system contributes substantially to the high intrinsic quality of the fruit and, consequently, to the satisfaction of discerning consumers. The system provides guidelines on how to grow fruit in the best possible manner in the area, and these guidelines are applied. In the course of the centuries-long tradition of fruit cultivation in the defined area, growers knowledge and experience of the optimum varieties to grow and where and how best to grow them have increased and improved. This process is still continuing.
Reference: The European Commission