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.”


© 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.

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.”

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.

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