Stone Pine Orchards Visit

A delegation of technicians and decision-makers from the Rural Development Initiative Valle del Alto Guadiato in Cordoba visited Mediterranean Stone Pine growers in the Portuguese region of Alentejo from 8 - 10 September, 2014. The group was accompanied by experts from the Spanish National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research (INIA) and the University of Cordoba.

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Over the years private landowners in Portugal have invested around 40 million euros in stone pine plantations as a crop for Mediterranean pine nuts. Pine nuts are one of the most expensive nuts in the world and the Stone Pine growing area in Portugal has increased from 40,000 ha to more than 180,000 ha in 30 years. Many pine stands on the farms that were visited are managed as orchards rather than forests and, in some cases, are irrigated. The latest innovations in the sector imply a high cone yield based on mechanized cone harvesting and the increasingly widespread practice of grafting young trees with scions of improved material obtained from elite clones. Stone pine and cork oak are both forest trees that allow for a sustained income and profitability from non-wood forest products and complement established timber species like maritime pine or eucalypts.

The Spanish visitors observed the way landowners in Alentejo combine different land uses and mixed forest to optimize the utility of their farms. They also noted the dynamic role played by local forest owners’ associations in promoting rural development based on local bioresources.

Photo: Fernando Morillo

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