Pomme du Limousin (Limousin apples)
Pomme du Limousin
- it has a slightly elongated shape, with a clearly marked eye and eye cavity
- it has a minimum size of 65 mm
- the flesh is white, firm, crispy, juicy and non-floury,
- the flavour is balanced as regards sweetness and acidity.
The apple is produced from the ‘Golden delicious’ variety, is greeny-white to yellow in colour and may have a pink blush. Products made from the apple (juice, compote, etc.) may not use the name Pomme du Limousin AOP.
The apples are grown, graded and packed in 100 municipalities in the départments of la Corrèze, la Creuse, la Dordogne and la Haute-Vienne. The production area for Pomme du Limousin is located on the plateaux of Haut-Limousin, the foothills of the Massif Central, between the Auvergne and the Aquitaine Basin. The light, deep soil lies on a crystalline basement and has good water-retention properties. The area enjoys a humid, ocean climate, with fairly abundant, although not excessive, rainfall and temperatures that do not reach extremes. The average temperature of more than 9oC defines the physiological limit of the crop and can be directly linked to the day/night temperature variation, which is a decisive factor in September and October. The cold nights and hot, sunny days promote the development of aromatic substances and anthocyanins, which give the skin its pink pigmentation. Another factor is altitude. Apple trees grow best at an altitude of between 300 and 500 metres and there is a precise correlation between the taste of an apple and the altitude at which it is grown, altitude mitigating the higher temperatures that often inhibit the development of aromatic substances and anthocyanins. Golden delicious grown at altitude has an elongated shape and is firmer, with a higher sugar content.
Encouraged by the increasing success of Pomme du Limousin, including on export markets, the whole of the sector has worked together to publicise the original characteristics of the product, promoting various initiatives, such as the ‘Route de la Pomme du Limousin’, tourist, cultural and sporting events organised around the AOP and the special menus created by artisans and restaurateurs to bring out the taste of the apple.
- Variety: The apples are of the ‘Golden delicious’ variety or of one of the mutants authorised for the AOP (standard characteristics or characteristics close to those of standard ‘Golden delicious’). Rootstock and grafts must be certified.
- Growing methods: The maximum yield is 58 tonnes per hectare. If that yield is exceeded, the whole production of the unit of homogeneous production concerned loses AOP status.
- Density: The planting density for the trees must be between 1 000 and 3 000 trees per hectare. The presence of pollinating varieties is authorised but their fruit cannot have AOP status.
- Pruning: The trees are pruned at least every two years, from the third leaf, using the vertical axis system. Pruning involves simplifying the fruiting branches and removing branches growing underneath these or receiving little light.
- Irrigation: Only localised irrigation or micro-irrigation is authorised and equipment to monitor the volume of water used must be installed. Fertirrigation is prohibited. Irrigation may not be carried out after 31 August or during the 15 days preceding harvest.
- Plant-health treatments: Chemical disinfection of the soil before planting is prohibited. Growers must keep an up-to-date cultural register in which they record all cultural operations carried out on each unit of homogeneous production.
- Harvesting: The date at which harvest can begin is laid down by prefectural order on a proposal from INAO. The apples are harvested by hand. Under no circumstances may plant-health treatments be applied to the fruit after harvest.
- Storage of the apples: The apples must be stored cold in order to preserve their firmness, texture and juiciness. From 15 December, apples to be packed must have been kept in rooms with a controlled environment. These rooms must be airtight and have equipment for recording and monitoring temperature and the levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen.
- Packing: The apples are packed in suitable packaging to ensure that their characteristics and quality are preserved. Packing takes place in the geographical area. Packages may contain no more than 20 kg of apples and the use of plastic bags and paper bags is prohibited. After a specified date, apples may no longer be released for circulation as Pomme du Limousin AOP. This is determined on the basis of the colour of the apples and varies from 1 June to 1 August.
Reference: The European Commission