“The importance of the cuticle regardless of whether it’s attached to the fruits, seeds or leaves, is crucial for health of the plant and results in healthful plants as well as high-quality fruits. The cuticle, however, can be damaged by biotic or environmental stresses” claims Luis Hernandez, CEO at Cultiva.

Cultiva is an US business that has spent in the last decade revolutionizing cuticle care and maintenance for crops grown in agriculture, which includes fresh fruit and vegetables. According to Cultiva’s official site, Parka(r) as is the most popular product, and launched in 2013 built on proprietary technology called SureSeal(tm).

SureSeal technology was initially created by scientists at Oregon State University who aimed to develop a chemical that mimics and strengthens the cuticle of plants. Cultiva ultimately granted a license to SureSeal in 2012, and has since developed its marketing strategy using SureSeal as its driving technology. In 2013, the firm introduced Parka which was initially launched across the entire market of cherry. Since that time, the firm has gained 70 percent market share on the cracking of cherry market within the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Cultiva is also striving for excellence over the last decade to build Parka’s presence on various kinds of highly valuable crops, including the grapes, apple, citrus and avocados, tree nuts as well as other varieties.

Triple modes of operation

As Luis clarifies, Parka increases a plant’s overall resistance to stress via three ways of actions. In the first, Parka improves the mechanical characteristics of the fruit, thereby stopping physiological problems such as cracking. In the next step, Parka(r) enhances the resilience of cell membranes of tissues and reduces the risk of sunburn. In the end, Parka enhances photosynthetic activity increasing the fruit’s quality and production.

“The three different modes of operation aid in increasing the plant’s overall resistance to strain. The specific results are dependent upon the location, but in general, Parka reduces cracking and sunburn on cherries by 40 percent, which is confirmed by more than 15 studies,” says Thiago Moraes, North America Sales manager.

In order to protect the fruit, Parka is most effective when it is used as a programmed application that begins at the beginning of the growth process of fruits, at a time when the fruit is small and forming its cuticle. It prepares the fruit for the explosive growth in summer’s hot temperatures. The protection of the cuticle to extreme radiation and temperature will allow plants to keep on photosynthesizing effectively, thereby optimizing the growth of plants and the distribution of sugars to fruit.

“If making use of products that contain wax however, the wax will break as the fruit grows. When using Parka it is possible to apply the coating in tandem with the plants to provide the greatest coverage. Parka is food-safe too and can therefore be used in the same way as harvesting and will show results even during storage.” Thiago explains.

Different geography, different goals

What Parka can be used is dependent upon the particular crop and also the geographical location. Different regions have various varieties that each have unique difficulties. Cultiva collaborates together with growers on tests to test the comparison of Parka against other varieties, as well as to identify the most effective method to satisfy their requirements.

About 65 percent of Cultiva’s work is done within North America and the rest is international. Cherries comprise a substantial portion of Cultiva’s business portfolio particularly around Chinese New Year during which cherries are sent to China in large quantities and distributed as presents. When this happens, the farmers can apply Parka prior to harvesting in order to minimize shrinkage in transportation.

Cultiva is now more prominently present growing in Chile, Argentina, Australia, Italy, Spain and Canada. The other markets in the process of development are Brazil, Mexico, South Africa as well as Peru.

Cultiva explores new possibilities such as vertical farming and greenhouse applications. The greenhouse’s environment is managed to reduce plant stress, the plants will suffer stress because from temperature variations and cracks are not unusual. Growers in greenhouses utilize a different tool within Parka to fight cracks as well as heat stress.

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