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Overseas Wenzhouese Grows Yangmei in Italy
【Fonts: Large Medium Small 【Source: Wenzhou China 【Date: 2014.07.04】

Wenzhou’s Yangmei (red bayberry) survives in Italy. Recently, the fruits of four yangmei trees grown by Chen Zhaoxia, an overseas Wenzhouese in Sarzana in central and western Italy are ripe for the picking.Wenzhou Specialty Station director Wang Yiguang said, to his knowledge, it was the first time to successfully cultivate Yangmei in Europe by a Wenzhouese.

When the reporter contacted Chen Zhaoxia in Italy yesterday afternoon, he was excited on the phone with a soaring voice: “Hey, how come you know this? My yangmei fruits taste even sweeter than those in our home town. After posting the fruit photos  on WeChat, a few overseas Chinese community leaders in Prato and other places called me and told me to leave some in the trees for them to pick. The story has been also covered by Italyqw.com, a local website for overseas Chinese”.

Chen Zhaoxia, a native of Zeya Town, Ouhai District, has been living in Italy for 25 years. He is currently engaged in catering, real estate, culture and other industries. He has won the title of “Global Chinese Outstanding Innovative Entrepreneur” and is now the president of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in the West Coast of Italy. According to Chen Zhaoxia, yangmei is a fruit popular with Wenzhouese, and it is also a hometown taste that many overseas Wenzhouese cannot forget. In the ripening season of yangmei each year, many visitors from China take the risk of customs seizure to bring yangmei fruits to their overseas relatives. Even some overseas Wenzhouese made special homebound trips for eating yangmei! Although some Chinese-run food companies in Europe have been importing yangmei for sales via air cargo, the expensive imported yangmei tastes no good as it is not easy to keep yangmei fresh. For this reason, after buying a new home in Sarzana in central and western Italy in 2009, Chen started to buy yangmei saplings for pilot cultivation on the 12-mu (a Chinese unit of area, 1 mu equals to 666.67 sqm in area) open space in his yard. One or two yangmei trees began to bear a few fruits in 2012. In this year, four trees bear fruits and the harvest is expected to be more than 10 jins (a traditional Chinese unit of weight, 1 jin equals to 0.5 kilo).

According to Chen Zhaoxia, yangmei fruits are ripe in Italy around the end of June, more than half a month later for picking than in China. In addition, yangmei grown in Italy is not as juicy because the local rainfall is not as abundant. However, it tastes sweeter and its storage time is longer by three to four times as compared to yangmei in Wenzhou. Up to now, he has planted additional more than 100 yangmei saplings in his yard.

Chen Zhaoxia is not sure why he can successfully grow yangmei in Sarzana. As far as he knows, many overseas Chinese have attempted to grow yangmei but failed. Therefore, he expects that experts in China can give him some guidance. Meanwhile, he hopes to grow yangmei on a larger scale in the region, if possible, so that local overseas Chinese can enjoy the real treat and it may also open up a new business for overseas Chinese in Italy.

The success of cultivating yangmei is judged mainly be fruit sweetness.

Wang Yiguang, Director of Wenzhou Specialty Station:

Yangmei is a hygrophilous, shade-tolerant and cold-resistant subtropical fruit tree. Yangmei cultivation is concentrated   south of the Yangtze River in FujianGuangdongGuangxi, HunanJiangsu, and Zhejiang. It is also thinly cultivated or naturalized in Japan and Korea. It is rarely cultivated in other countries, let alone in Europe. Maybe, the microclimate of Sarzana is somewhat suitable for yangmei growth. In general, yangmei grows better in places of mild climate and its survival rate will be higher if the temperature is not below minus 7~8. The success of cultivating yangmei can be judged by the growth and fruit sweetness.

>>>Dialogue

ReporterHow come you think of planting yangmei there?

Chen Zhaoxia: I found by chance in the hill of Sarzana where I live some wild plants with fruits similar to wild yangmei in China. The leaves and fruits of the plant are very similar to those of yangmei. The red fruit of the plant is very sweet without a seed. So I was thinking it possible to grow yangmei of my hometown here and I decided to give it a try.

ReporterHow many saplings of yangmei you planted? What are the varieties?

Chen Zhaoxia Four trees have already borne fruits and 100 more saplings were recently planted. The varieties are “Ding’ao yangmei” and “Heitang (literally, black carbon) yangmei” native to Wenzhou. The cultivation of “Heitang” yangmei is very successful as the fruits are big and sweet. By comparison, the fruits of “Ding’ao yangmei” are smaller and poorer in quality.

ReporterDid any other overseas Wenzhouese ever plant yangmei in Italy? Did they succeed or not?

Chen Zhaoxia Many overseas Chinese from Wenzhou and Lishui attempted to plant yangmei in different Italian cities, but their efforts never paid off. As far as I know, an overseas Wenzhouese in Spain managed to cultivate yangmei there. However, the fruits are small and not sweet.

Reporterhow is the ecology and climate in Italy?

Chen Zhaoxia Most regions of Italy have the subtropical Mediterranean climate with the average temperature of 210 in January and 2326 in July, and the average annual rainfall of 5001000 mm. With the elevation of 21 meters above the sea level, Sarzana have pleasant seasons and is one of the regions with the best climate in Italy. Sarzana is similar to Wenzhou in geographical environment as it is located to the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. The temperature in four seasons is almost the same with that in Wenzhou. As there is no industrial production, the ecological environment of Sarzana is excellent.

ReporterIs it hard to take care of yangmei in Sarzana?

Chen Zhaoxia It is arid and there is almost no rainfall in Sarzana from April to October each year. It is very hard to take care of the trees because of the dry climate and I have to water them every day. So I drilled a well in my court to get the ground water for the trees.

>>>Link

SarzanaIt is a town in the province of La Spezia, Italy. Covering a total area of 34.23 square kilometersSarzana is an ancient small town, a cultural city with a thousand years of history and the home to a population of nearly 3 million people. Located at the crossroads of Liguria and Tuscany, Sarzana is commercially developed. Sarzana is in the sister city relations with Liandu District, Lishui. Currently, more than 30 companies owned by overseas Chinese have been established in Sarzana. More than 200 overseas Chinese living and working in Sarzana are mainly engaged in retailing, catering, beauty salon and other services industries.

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