Sandra Monacelli, mem­ber of the Regional Council of Umbria

Due to cli­mate con­di­tions and to the mas­sive pres­ence of par­a­sites and olives flies, Umbria’s olive oil pro­duc­tion will suf­fer a dra­matic loss, that in some areas could reach 80 per­cent. Considering the seri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion Sandra Monacelli, mem­ber of the Regional Council of Umbria, and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UDC (Union of Christian and Centre Democrats) party, offi­cially asked for the Region’s inter­ven­tion.

Umbrian olive grow­ers and pro­duc­ers are vic­tims of a real nat­ural dis­as­ter, Monacelli said in the point of order that she pre­sented at the Regional Council. She asked to illus­trate which ini­tia­tives are being planned to sup­port farm­ers, involv­ing the national gov­ern­ing body as well.
See more: Complete Coverage of the 2014 Harvest
“In 2014, Umbria is fac­ing a dras­tic fall in olive oil pro­duc­tion com­pared to last year, due to the unfa­vor­able weather con­di­tions of last win­ter and sum­mer, ” she reported. “As a con­se­quence, the groves have been attacked by insects and par­a­sites such as olive fruit fly and olive moth. This caused huge dam­ages and a fur­ther, con­sid­er­able decrease of pro­duc­tion that has been over­all esti­mated to be around 60 per­cent with 70 – 80 per­cent peaks in cer­tain areas, while some farm­ers lost the whole pro­duc­tion. The pro­duc­tion loss also entailed a deep impact on job lev­els, con­sid­er­ing the remark­able reduc­tion of sea­sonal work­ers’ hir­ing and of rev­enues for the linked indus­tries.”

According to Coldiretti’s records quoted by Monacelli, in Umbria there are around 7.5 mil­lion olive trees, cov­er­ing over 27,000 hectares. The annual aver­age olive oil pro­duc­tion is around 9,900 tons, 10 per­cent of which is cer­ti­fied as DOP.

In Umbria, many farm­ers are leav­ing fruit fly-​damaged olives to rot on the trees — a total loss of this year’s har­vest.

However, the pro­duc­tive loss does not nec­es­sar­ily mean a drop in qual­ity as well. According to Giulio Scatolini, regional panel leader and also national panel leader and Umbria’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive coun­cilor at Unaprol, those who paid par­tic­u­lar atten­tion and fol­lowed Unaprol’s mon­i­tor­ing and rec­om­men­da­tions were able to obtain a very good prod­uct.

“The dam­age was extremely seri­ous,” Scatolini said, “since the attack was made by dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions of flies. Usually, the olive fly attacks only once and then goes away but this year, due to weather con­di­tions, they pro­cre­ated and the attack was pro­longed, thus com­pletely ruin­ing the olives on the trees. But our mon­i­tor­ing had fore­cast this sit­u­a­tion, and those who fol­lowed our advice adopt­ing the nec­es­sary treat­ments saved their olives, at least in part. This did­n’t affect the oil qual­ity since the rec­om­mended prod­ucts are water-​soluble and they are washed away along with the waste waters, but of course it was not suit­able for organic groves.”

Another impor­tant solu­tion to pre­serve the qual­ity was to let them cool down, since the tem­per­a­tures dur­ing the har­vest­ing days were too high. A pilot-​project car­ried on by the Decimi farm in Bettona, where the olives were stored in a refrig­er­at­ing room through the night and processed the morn­ing after, showed good results.

In any case, this year’s oil pro­duc­tion is almost half of what was expected, and this entails the revi­sion of the sup­ply con­tracts, and a remark­able spike in price, ver­i­fied at around 20 per­cent. Only the higher alti­tude areas were spared from the attack thanks to cooler tem­per­a­tures. While the sharp drop in tem­per­a­ture through­out Italy in the last few days def­i­nitely sent away the par­a­sites, the dam­age already done was dra­matic.



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