Europe

Greek Farmers Expect Lower Yields as Harvest Nears

The olive fly, a heat wave, and a drought are likely to lead to a reduced production of 200,000 to 250,000 metric tons of olive oil in Greece this year.

Lisa Radinovsky
Sep. 20, 2016
By Lisa Radinovsky
Lisa Radinovsky

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Panay­otis Karan­to­nis, an Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil advi­sory com­mit­tee mem­ber and direc­tor of the Hel­lenic Asso­ci­a­tion of Indus­tries & Pack­ers of Olive Oil (ESVITE), tells Olive Oil Times that recent esti­mates for the upcom­ing olive har­vest in Greece call for lower yields than last year. Due to adverse weather con­di­tions, mainly in Crete, and the exten­sive pres­ence of the olive fly, the new pro­duc­tion is esti­mated to be less than 250,000 met­ric tons” of olive oil.

Nikos Michelakis, sci­en­tific advi­sor of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Cre­tan Olive Munic­i­pal­i­ties (ACOM or SEDIK), also sug­gests that the Greek Min­istry of Rural Devel­op­ment and Food’s esti­mate of 300,000 met­ric tons of olive oil is likely to be too high this year. Because of the dam­age from extreme weather con­di­tions such as an unusual heat­wave in spring, par­tic­u­larly in Crete, and from very lit­tle rain­fall,” Greece may pro­duce as lit­tle as 200,000 met­ric tons of olive oil this year.

As the ear­li­est olive har­vests begin in Halkidiki, north­ern Greece, most of the 18 pro­duc­ers who responded to an Olive Oil Times ques­tion­naire seem to expect approx­i­mately 200,000 to 250,000 met­ric tons of olive oil pro­duc­tion this year. Pro­duc­ers are antic­i­pat­ing a smaller har­vest in some parts of the Pelo­pon­nese, most of Crete, and cen­tral Greece, while they sent mixed reports from Lesvos and indef­i­nite answers regard­ing olive oil from Halkidiki.

ESVITE’s Karan­to­nis sug­gests that while exports of Greek olive oil dur­ing the cur­rent crop year (2015/16) are esti­mated in the area of 140,000 met­ric tons, the first esti­mate for the new crop year’s exports is just 110,000 tons.” Karan­to­nis adds that in Greece the remain­ing olive oil stocks at the end of the cur­rent crop year (2015/16) are esti­mated around 50,000 tons.”

Karan­to­nis points out that prices for fresh oils which are expected in the mar­ket by mid-Octo­ber will be, as always, deci­sively affected by the inter­est to be expressed by Ital­ian traders and importers.” Michelakis also notes that is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict prices, since they will depend largely on the pro­duc­tion and the prices in the main oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries, Spain and Italy.” If cur­rent fore­casts for pro­duc­tion are cor­rect, he says, prices may remain sta­ble, at least until the begin­ning of the har­vest.

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Pelo­pon­nese

Michalis Pach­nos of Arbor Beata expects a good har­vest from his grove in Corinth (NE Pelo­pon­nese) but says pro­longed sum­mer heat and low rain­falls have resulted in stressed’ olive groves that will have lim­ited pro­duc­tiv­ity in 2016.”

A bit south­west in Myce­nae, Ioan­nis Kam­pouris of E‑LA-WON antic­i­pates a good year with high qual­ity olive oil” and sim­i­lar quan­ti­ties to last year, given few weather prob­lems there and ade­quate non-gov­ern­men­tal con­trol of the olive fly.

Tasos Anestis of Rhi­zoma Olive Farms in Kranidi (E Pelo­pon­nese) pre­dicts that the har­vest in his area will be excep­tional, but the quan­tity will be con­sid­er­ably less” due to extremely hot, dry con­di­tions in spring that affected the local Man­aki vari­ety, but not the Koroneiki.

Lisa Radinovsky

Nikos Charamis of KASELL antic­i­pates a mod­er­ate to good” quan­tity in Lako­nia (SE Pelo­pon­nese) due to irri­ga­tion and lit­tle dam­age to olive trees dur­ing recent storms.

Maria Guadagno Kat­se­tos of Loutraki Oil Com­pany (S Pelo­pon­nese) expects a good har­vest year” with excel­lent qual­ity thanks to no prob­lems.

Gio­vanni Bianchi of Argali (SW Pelo­pon­nese) pre­dicts a good har­vest, although the weather has greatly favored the pro­lif­er­a­tion of the olive fly,” and strong rain­storms dam­aged other (non-olive) crops in his area.

George Math­iopou­los of the Greek Olive Estate pre­dicts a very good qual­ity har­vest, per­haps 10% less than last year, in Gorty­nia (cen­tral Pelo­pon­nese).

Crete

SEDIK’s Nikos Michelakis explains that in Crete, where aver­age pro­duc­tion is close to 100,000 tons, the com­ing crop is esti­mated to be less than 60,000 tons, and even lower if the fight against the olive fruit fly that started very late this year does not have a good result.” Some parts of Crete were harder hit than oth­ers by this year’s hot winds, heat, and drought. For exam­ple, Efty­chios Androulakis of Pamako fears the small­est crop in a decade in moun­tain­ous Selino, south­west Crete, with medium qual­ity due to olive fly dam­age.

Emmanouil Karpadakis of Terra Creta expects a slightly smaller har­vest than last year in the Kolym­vari area of north­west Crete. Creta Earth owner Gior­gos Papadakis reports that the Plakias area in south cen­tral Crete had lit­tle trou­ble with hot winds or drought, since it is watered by moun­tain springs, so he expects a fairly good har­vest, although less than last year.

Lesvos

In Lesvos, Agro­cap­i­tal reports, the cli­mate favored the devel­op­ment of the olive fly, and this will have an adverse impact on both the quan­tity and qual­ity of olive oil pro­duc­tion this year.”

Ellie Tra­gakes of Hel­lenic Agri­cul­tural Enter­prises has noticed some olive fly issues but antic­i­pates a sim­i­lar har­vest to pre­vi­ous years in her groves.

On the other hand, Stratis Camat­sos of evo3 esti­mates a super-har­vest­ing sea­son, one that we haven’t seen for the last 4 – 5 years,” with the same low acid­ity and aro­matic fla­vors as usual.” Although the sum­mer was dry and some strong winds have bro­ken some branches…the biggest threat right now is the olive fruit fly,” which they are mon­i­tor­ing very closely” in order to decide whether to start har­vest­ing early to avoid dam­age to olives.

Halkidiki and Cen­tral Greece

Argyris Bouras of Eleones Hel­lenic Olive Prod­ucts expects the har­vest in Halkidiki to be smaller than last year,” but with sim­i­lar qual­ity. Recent rains have largely com­pen­sated for an ear­lier drought. The drought will leave the olives a bit smaller than other years, which is good news for olive oil because the smaller olives are used for mak­ing olive oil” rather than for table olives.

Courtesy of E‑LA-WON: Olives in Mycenae, Peloponnese

Evi Psounou Pro­dro­mou of Yanni’s Olive Grove agrees that Halkidiki will have very good qual­ity but smaller olives, adding that the table olive price will largely deter­mine how many olives are kept for press­ing, and how many sold as table olives. If table olives sell for a high price, fewer olives will be avail­able for press­ing, and vice versa.

Busi­ness devel­op­ment con­sul­tant Stama­tis Ala­man­i­o­tis explains that some of the larger Greek olive vari­eties, such as Amfissa (Amphissis) and Halkidiki olives, are used for dou­ble direc­tion cul­ti­va­tion (both as table olives and for oil), unlike smaller olives such as Koroneiki and Man­aki.

In cen­tral Greece, Ala­man­i­o­tis expects a very high qual­ity olive crop with about 70% less quan­tity than aver­age. There was some dam­age from the olive fly and the olive moth, but not too much so far, given the drought.

As Tasos Anestis men­tions, the global con­sump­tion of real extra vir­gin olive oil is con­stantly increas­ing, and this can only be good news,” as it rep­re­sents a ten­dency on behalf of con­sumers to a more healthy diet full of antiox­i­dants and anti-inflam­ma­tory” foods. This sug­gests that increas­ing num­bers of con­sumers will be hop­ing for a good har­vest.



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