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Olive, Fruit and Citrus Crops

Research activities

Research activities

The Centre deals with tree crops: fruit, citrus and olive trees. It carries out research activities for the improvement of the supply chains, developing technologies for genetic improvement, genomics, propagation, sustainability of production and the quality of fruits and derivatives, including the valorization of by-products. It ensures the conservation, characterization and enhancement of fruit, citrus and olive collections.
Research Centre for Olive, Fruit and Citrus Crops includes the offices of Rende, Rome, Acireale, Caserta, Forlì and Spoleto.

Variety innovations through traditional genetic improvement and new biotechnologies and the enhancement of agrobiodiversity to support sustainable and quality in fruit, citrus and olive production chains.

The Centre carries out activities of genetic improvement aimed at the development of new cultivars of fruit, citrus and olive suitable for the different areas of cultivation, more tolerant to biotic and pedoclimatic adversities. These cultivars meet the real needs of the three production chains and better combine innovation, sustainability and “made in Italy”. To deal effectively with the current and future challenges of climate change, the Centre explores the genetic variability of its germplasm collections in searching for genes and markers associated with rustic characters. The purpose is to develop new genetic resources by integrating the expertise within the centre in conventional breeding, genetics, genomics, bioinformatics and New Breeding Technologies.

Innovations in production methods with particular reference to the digitisation and optimisation of cultivation operations

The Centre develops and validates new production methods in order to increase the yield and quality of olive, fruit and citrus production and to improve the environmental sustainability and competitiveness of agricultural farms. It carries out studies on physiological responses in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum for adapting fruit production to climate change by improving resource efficiency with positive economic and environmental impacts. The Centre promotes the use of sensory technology for monitoring the conditions of fruit and for implementing and validating digitalized platforms in order to optimize the management of fruit orchards by means of precision farming tools.

Implementation of agro-ecological techniques in organic fruit farming

The Centre has long-term experimental devices (Project RETIBIO) through which it carries out activities to adequately support research in organic farming. In particular, the actions are: the use of long-term experimental devices as field laboratories for multidisciplinary studies in agroecology and ecophysiology, the implementation of agroecological techniques in organic fruit and olive cultivation, the evaluation of the quality of products obtained in organic farming systems with a high level of diversification, the consolidation of the bio relational network with stakeholders of the production chain.

Integrated systems for crop protection

The Centre carries out research activities in the field of host-pathogen interaction, olive tree response to different biotic and abiotic stresses, selection of varieties resistant/tolerant to different pathogens and phytophages. It also develops sensitive, rapid and specific molecular diagnostic protocols for the identification and characterization of fungi and phytopathogenic bacteria on symptomatic and asymptomatic plant material. In recent years, it has been involved in the monitoring, detection, identification and control of Xylella fastidiosa, in the development of defence strategies against emerging and re-emerging organisms and micro-organisms as a result of climate change. The Centre develops innovative, eco-friendly means of control based both on the use of antagonistic micro-organisms and on high-technology formulas that allow a drastic reduction in doses per hectare (nanotechnologies).

Quality, traceability, trackability and valorization of pre- and post-harvest production

To meet the needs of consumers, the Centre conducts studies on the maintenance of qualitative, nutraceutical and sensory characteristics of pre- and post-harvest fruit products, and supports companies in the three production chains to develop new products and processes. It offers the tools and techniques to achieve traceability both of origin and on the applied cultivation technique (biological or integrated). Finally, the Centre carries out several studies aimed at exploiting all waste and by-products from the agri-food processing industries, in order to recover farm incomes and to respect the environment.

Research programme 2018/2020 - Centre's objectives

Research programme 2018/2020 - Centre's objectives

Laboratory of Fruit Quality and Agri-Food Technologies (Acireale, Caserta, Forlì, Rende, Roma)

Traceability and Trackability Laboratory (Acireale, Rende)

Laboratory of microbiology and nanotechnology (Rende)

Laboratory of Phytopathological Analysis (Acireale)

Laboratory of Genomics and Bioinformatics (Acireale, Caserta, Forlì, Rende, Roma)

In vitro culture and micropropagation laboratory (Acireale, Forlì, Rende, Roma)

Laboratory for Conservation, Characterization and Valorization of Fruit, Olive and Citrus Biodiversity (Acireale, Caserta, Forlì, Rende, Roma, Spoleto)

Laboratory of Genetic Improvement and Variety Evaluation (Acireale, Caserta, Forlì, Rende, Roma, Spoleto)

Crop Protection Laboratory (Acireale, Caserta, Rende, Roma)

Laboratory of Agroecology (Acireale, Forlì, Roma, Spoleto)

Platform for the Study of Plant Physiology (Acireale, Caserta, Rende, Rome, Spoleto)

Sequencing platform (Acireale, Forli, Rende, Rome)

Long Term Experimental Devices (Acireale, Rome)

Technological Platform (Acireale, Forlì, Rende, Rome)

Voluntary Certification System (Acireale, Forlì)

Varietal Collections (Acireale, Caserta, Forlì, Rende, Rome)

Testing Centre (Acireale)

Greenhouses (Acireale, Forlì, Rende, Rome)

The history of the Centre


The history of the Centre

The Research Centre for Olive, Fruit and Citrus Crops (CREA-OFA) is a research centre belonging to the Council for Agricultural Research and Economics. The structure brings together the centres previously referred to as fruit-growing centres (CREA-FRU Roma, CREA-FRC Caserta, CREA-FRF Forlì), citrus-growing centres (CREA-ACM Acireale) and olive-growing centres (CREA-OLI Rende/Spoleto).

Acireale office
In 1866 it was the seat of the “Comitato Agrario del Circondario di Acireale” and then the seat of the “Regia Stazione Sperimentale di Frutticoltura e Agrumicoltura”. In 1967, the Royal Station became the “Experimental Institute for Agriculture”. Since 2007 the Institute has become “Research Centre for Agronomic and Mediterranean Crops (ACM)". Since 2017 it is seat of the CREA Olive, Fruit and Citrus Crops research centre.

Rende office
In 1968, the Institute for Experimental Olive growing was established in Cosenza, with peripheral operating locations in Spoleto and Palermo. From October 1st, 2004, the Experimental Institute became a Research Centre for Olive and Oil Industry with a directorate placed in Rende, instead of Cosenza. Later, Città Sant’angelo (PE) was added to the peripheral office located in Spoleto. With this reform the newborn Centre was able to reacquire some of the activities that it had gained in 1899, following the relocation of the ‘Regio Frantoio Sperimentale’ from Palmi.
Since 2017, the Centre has been part of CREA-OFA, to which the competences of Rende are related. Rende remains the seat of election for olive growing studies as well as the administrative seat of the whole Olive, Fruit and Citrus Crops Research Centre.

Roma office
The CREA-OFA of Rome was founded as the Institute of Fruit Growing and Electrogenetics in 1927. In 1955 the Institute became the Experimental Institute for Fruit Growing in Rome, integrating the three peripheral sections of Trento, Forli and Caserta. The 1999 reform established the Council for Agricultural Research (CRA) which transformed the Institute into a Research Centre for Fruit Agriculture. The most recent reorganization of the research institution in 2017 gave rise to the creation of the CREA-OFA, to which the former Fruit Growing Centre of Rome currently belongs.

Caserta office
In 1860 it was the seat of the Agricultural Institute for the research and study of agricultural science and the Experimental Agricultural Garden and in 1939 of the Zootechnical Dairy Institute for Southern Italy. In 1967 it became an operative section of the Experimental Institute for Fruit Growing in Rome. In 2007 it became a Research Unit for Fruit Growing and in 2015 it was organized as a Research Unit for Fruit Growing in Caserta (CREA-FRC). Since 2017 it is one of the five offices of CREA-OFA.

Forlì office
In 1872 it was the seat of the Agricultural Experimental station of Forlì and in 1910 of the Self-sufficient Laboratory of Agricultural Chemistry. In 1967 the Laboratory was turned into the Peripheral Operative Section of the Experimental Institute for Fruit Growing in Rome.
In 2007 it became a Research Unit for Fruit Growing, in 2015 a Research Unit for Fruit Growing in Forlì (CREA-FRF) and since 2017 it is one of the five CREA-OFA offices.