Mandarin Orange Harvest In The Neretva Valley
The Neretva Valley is known as the Golden Valley or the California of Croatia. You may wonder why. Well, precisely because of its extremely rich soil and golden mandarin fruits, which spread over vast plantations in the area from Metković to Ploče.
It seems that, these days, every resident of every village of the cultivated and fertile Neretva valley is on their feet. Women and men of all ages, hard-working fruit growers, like one big family are spending all day on their plantations. October and November are the months when the Neretva Valley reaches its full potential and captures everyone attention. Why? Because this is the time when a unique tourist event is organized – the mandarin harvest. In the otherwise gentle landscape of this beautiful countryside embellished with vivid natural colours, the valued fruit growers have their hands full. The start of this year's first harvest of early mandarins in the Neretva valley begins about 25th of September.
Beside fruit growers, drivers of tractors, trucks, and of course, ships and boats also have their hands full, exporting tons of fruit through the narrow paths along the canals and the Neretva River, as well as its backwaters to the first purchasing centres.
It is especially important to mention that this golden, juicy, sweet, fragrant and healthy fruit of high quality is the pride of the Neretva Valley, since their mandarins have received as of July 1st, 2015, the certificate of authenticity and are protected as a Croatian agricultural product according to the European commission of agriculture. As a Croatian agricultural export product, Neretva mandarins are on the second place just behind the sugar beet.
This certificate of authenticity confirms that mandarin produced in the Neretva has a sweetness, colour and shape that cannot be found anywhere else. With this protection and authenticity certificate, the Neretva mandarin joins the list of recognized authentic local products such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, sparkling Champagne or Florida oranges, which enjoy international reputations for unique quality
You too can enjoy the harvest, and in the end take the fruits of your labours with you.
The road to the plantation is also very exciting. To reach the plantations you have to drive with the traditional Neretva vehicles, which are the vessels of farmers, fishermen and hunters, without which, for centuries, everyday life in this surreal landscape would be impossible and unthinkable.
A short break for refreshment with traditional brandy and dried figs is followed by a short course of instruction in mandarin harvesting. Since the quality and durability of the fruit is affected by the method of harvesting, it is very important to know exactly how these golden fruits should be picked. The experts will teach you that the mandarins should be picked with a quick twitch of the hand together with a U-turn motion in order not to leave the stem and a part of the peel on the tree. However, it is very certain that, after this instruction, follows a pledge that mandarins should not be picked by hand. Instead you will be introduced to special curved and convex scissors and demonstration of their use.
Along with the scissors, everyone gets a net in which to place their freshly picked mandarins, which are not gathered in silence. Instead, the entire harvest is celebrated with the sounds of the music of this region.
The programme of the mandarin harvest is complemented by sailing vessels, a photo safari along the Neretva river channels, backwaters and wetlands, rich wildlife and concludes with enjoying the specialties of this region - eels, frogs and wild game.
We invite you to be a part of the fragrant mandarin harvest in the beautiful landscape of the Neretva valley!
Images adopted from Agroklub
Here's why it stands out from „the crowd“
Six original characteristics of the Neretva mandarin for which it gained its certificate of authenticity:
- The fruit of the Neretva mandarin is resistant to cold;
- It ripens earlier than mandarins from other growing areas;
- It has a thin, smooth peel that peels off easily;
- It has no seeds;
- Its slices are easily separated
- Its uniqueness lies in its vivid golden yellow colour.