Coir Pomi

November 20, 2009 / Local Interest
Val di Non, Trentino

cuidpalme1Apples grow throughout Italy all year long. In some cases, the quality is the same from September, when they are picked, until the following August when the previous years harvest is depleted. The secret? Storing the harvest in a nitrogen environment which slows down the ripening process.

A trip in springtime on the old narrow gauge, the Vaca Nonesa, through the ideal environment of the Val di Non, a long wide valley just north of Trento, transports you into a wave of white apple blossoms which rolls up the valley as the daily temperatures increase. cuidpalme2Throughout the summer a wave of ripening Golden Delicious follows in the footprints of the blossoms. Fewer and fewer apple trees here though… the apples nowadays are mostly grown on vines!

Migrant apple pickers follow the harvest all autumn long, which culminates with the Pomaria. My wife and I have had the distinct pleasure of spending a day coir pomi (dialect for picking apples). And, like the migrant workers, we received safety instructions for working in the old trees… and a nice day’s wage as well!

— Kindly contributed by Michael Yaccino, reader. Thank you!!

15 Responses to “Coir Pomi”

  1. Lee McIntyre
    Lee McIntyre

    Wow, that must have been fun! You’re absolutely right, those apple blossoms are beautiful in the spring in the valleys around here, the largest apple-producing are in Europe (or so they say in Bolzano/Bozen.)

  2. Annette (Alessio) Higday

    Thanks so much for this- as my mother’s family (Julian(Giuliani) and Pitcheider) are from Dambel in Val di Non. We are all over the US but still a close family. Annette (Alessio) Higday

  3. Angelina Limato

    I love this kind of information and the pictures make it even better. The apples look delicious and it is interesting how they make them last throughout the year like that. I bet they actually taste like an apple too. Here most of the produce has no taste because they pick it so green for shipping that when it comes into its natural color that is all you get (except maybe a side of pesticide or contamination). I don’t know if many kids know these days what a “real” tomato/tomatoe tastes like. They are hard to find unless you grow them. I grew some this year at my new residence and they were small but had more flavor than the large ones you could buy. This would be a wonderful adventure. Love the wage sheet. Nice touch and always love seeing things written in italian. Thanks so much for this.

  4. Angelina Limato

    Just out of curiousity…..what are the small plants in the background? I noticed some have small red fruit and some have what looks like yellow fruit. Just curious. Thanks!

  5. Gian Banchero

    In my garden there are two apple trees, a Fuji and a Granny Smith, both the plants produce very sweet fruit, the reason is due to my immigrant Nonna Lena’s instruction which was “Don’t make the tree lazy by overwatering, let its roots grow and work their way down.” The first two years the trees were lightly watered to start them off during our dry California summers, after that they were on their own. A Tuscan lady gave me good advice about growing persimmons (cachi), she advised me to “treat a persimmon tree like a wife, just leave it alone and don’t bother it.” which has been a good bit of advice being two neighbors who overly fuss with their persimmon trees usually have very bad harvests. The photos of the golden apples are “Delicious”. Thank you!

  6. Peter Masullo

    This is great. How does one get to be a picker? I would want to do this for the experience.

  7. to Peter – I’m don’t know what the author’s experience was, but you might check out an organization called WWOOF ( My friend and I used it to stay on a small family farm/agriturismo near Ancona, where we helped with the olive harvest in exchange for room and board.

  8. Michael Yaccino

    Annette, I know Dambel. My maternal grandmother was from Ramulo, just down the road and my maternal grandfather was born in near by Sanseno. Your cousin Caroline is my italian teacher here in Vail.

  9. Michael Yaccino

    Gina, You are only partially correct. Following is an answer to a question I asked a friend that grows the apples in Val di Non “I read your message on the apples and what I can tell you is that it’s not the Espalier method. This method has been used in Val di Non in the past( 70’s-80-s) but it didn’t give good results since the apples didn’t have the same quantity of production of other methods.
    Now all the new plants we use are very small( max height i would say about 7-8 feet), you’ve seen that, but have many branches that go out in all directions( in the Espalier method they were all parallel and facing the direction in which they would catch more sun.

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand what “on vines” means since to me that has to do with grapes and not apples!!!!!!. I think that on the website, which has pages in English, they can see the methods we use for growing the trees and learn more on how we commercialize the fruits. I think it could be interesting.” I guess the “Vine” idea is very much akin to grapes. But that is how it was explained to me. They are definately not trees. They are supported similar to grape vines. I did go to the Milinda website, but could not find anymore info.

  10. Michael Yaccino

    Angelina, The small plants in the background are just planted vines. The red ones are used to provide a red blush to the golden (yellow) apples which are 99% of the harvest. A slight blush provides a better looking apple.

  11. Michael Yaccino

    Peter, I was picking with my cousin who owned a small plot until this year. I have another cousin who owns a large farm, and he uses migrant pickers from eastern europe.

  12. Michael Yaccino

    Jan, Thanks for the info on WWOOF. I checked it out. The reason that we got paid and signed the book was because the day after we picked apples my cousin was visited by the fincance police. He was not there and so he dodged the bullet. But he got us in the ledge as soon as he could.


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