The recent bad weather in Greece, called Hephaestion by the meteorologists after the closest friend of Alexander the Great, gave another blow to olive oil production in Crete.
Wind gusts and hail storms swept away the olive drupes from the trees, adding to the woes of the growers and producers of the island, after an earlier hit to the production fruit pathogens had brought.See more: 2019/20 Olive Harvest Updates
The phenomenon mostly affected some areas where olives are picked late in the season since most of the island’s harvest was completed early this year.
“We have some late olive oil making territories, like the Fragka area in Heraklion region, where the olives are harvested in late February or early March,” Myron Hilentzakis, the deputy director of the Agricultural Association of Heraklion, said. “These olives are now gone. It is a tragic situation.”
“For the first time, 95 percent of all the mills on the island ceased their operation at the end of December, and 97 percent of the harvesting was completed,” he added.
Consequently, the current season in Crete is nothing to be proud of, Hilentzakis said, with the total olive oil quantity produced falling far short of projections.
“We had a lot of rainfall in 2019 and we were expecting a prosperous yield of olive oil, estimated at around 80,000 tons,” he said. “But according to data from the local departments of agriculture, the overall quantity is only 37,000 tons. It is a huge decline. And another problem is that only 17 percent of this quantity is extra virgin olive oil.”