Business

Drought Unlikely to Affect Yield, Say Some Greek Producers

Dry conditions over the last six months in Greece have created anxiety in the olive oil industry over yield this season. Producers are reporting, however, that their production might be better than expected.

Nov. 8, 2017
By Costas Vasilopoulos

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In Greece, the con­tin­u­ous dry weather con­di­tions of the last six months have threat­ened to hammer the season’s olive oil pro­duc­tion.

Irrigated olive farms are not as affected, but the major­ity of the groves in the coun­try are non-irri­gated and prone to low yield due to pro­longed drought con­di­tions. Showers in late October in sev­eral areas were not expected to add more juice to the olive fruits.

There is a lot of hype about the drought but I do not expect any seri­ous damage coming our way.- Ilias Zourtsanos, Western Messinia

Olive Oil Times con­tacted olive oil pro­duc­ers and mill owners in dif­fer­ent regions of the coun­try to ask about their pro­jec­tions and hopes for the season. Their answers indi­cated that the predica­ment might be better than ini­tially expected, depend­ing on the spe­cific area and its micro­cli­mate.
See more: Complete Coverage of the 2017 Olive Harvest
‘Peza Union’ in Crete near Heraklion is a coop­er­a­tive of oil and wine pro­duc­ers where around 5,000 to 6,000 tons of olives are processed each year in the union’s two oil mills. Their spokesper­son Anestis Vasileiadis told OOT: “This year’s yield of olive oil is expected to be decreased but not because of the drought; it is more due to the olive trees pro­duc­tion cycle which allows the trees to be pro­duc­tive only every other year. Dry weather is some­thing we are accus­tomed to, since tra­di­tion­ally our area does not get a lot of rain”.

The oil mill of Kasimatis Bros resides at Kastella in cen­tral Euboea. “Despite the drought, I expect the olive oil quan­tity to be the same as last year. But I also expect the taste of the oil to be on the bitter side because of the drought,” they told us.

Staying in Euboea, Papanastasiou broth­ers own an olive oil mill near Istiaia, in the north­ern part of the island. Dimitris Papanastasiou com­mented that: “Drought has put har­vest­ing on hold because pro­duc­ers wait for the olive fruits to mature, but I do not see a cut down in pro­duc­tion. I rather expect an increase in the yield by 40 to 50 per­cent com­pared to last year and I also expect to get oil of excel­lent qual­ity since the fruits had min­i­mal olive fly infec­tion this season.”

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© Olive Oil Times | Data source: International Olive Council


The island of Lesvos is well known for its dis­tinc­tive olive oil. Apostolos Mavrikos owns a mill at Pamfyla north of the cap­i­tal city of Mytilene. “The drought in our area was unprece­dented. I expect olive oil pro­duc­tion to be cut down by 20 per­cent com­pared to last year,” Mavrikos told OOT.

Afentoulis Bros is an oil mill at Chalkidiki in north­ern Greece. Its owner reported that “dry weather did not harm the olive trees in our area. Harvesting has already begun and I expect a big increase in the oil yield than last year.”

Spyros Kirkinezos runs an oil mill near Messolongi, 50 km north­ern of Patras. The sit­u­a­tion there seems unpromis­ing: “I see a cut in oil pro­duc­tion by 30 per­cent com­pared to last year. People are frus­trated and do not want to har­vest the olives until it rains. But any rain now will not bring more oil; it is just that it won’t taste that bitter,” Kirkinezos said.

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Moving south, the Ilias Zourtsanos and Co. oil mill resides just out­side the town of Kyparissia in west­ern Messinia. Zourtsanos com­mented, “I expect oil pro­duc­tion to be reduced by only 10 per­cent than last season. There is a lot of hype about the drought but I do not expect any seri­ous damage coming our way. I also fore­see that the cur­rent season’s olive oil in our ter­ri­tory will be of exquis­ite qual­ity since we had no olive fly activ­ity during the summer.”

At the neigh­bor­ing region of Lakonia the Cheliotis family has worked with olive oil for more than 50 years. The family has its own olive orchards and an olive oil pack­ag­ing plant near Sparta. “Despite the fact that it didn’t rain the past months, olive trees in Lakonia were unharmed and we expect a rise in oil pro­duc­tion by 30 per­cent com­pared to last year,” they told us. “The whole Lakonia region is expected to give more than 25,000 tons of olive oil.”

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The drought will cer­tainly take its toll in some areas of Greece regard­ing the olive oil yield, but it will leave other ter­ri­to­ries unaf­fected. On top of that, there are cases where more oil is coming out despite dry weather, like in the regions of Lakonia, Chalkidiki, and Euboea. It remains to be seen what the total olive oil crop will be in Greece when the cur­rent har­vest­ing season will end prob­a­bly by late January 2018.