Europe

In Western Greece, Hail Punches Olives to the Ground Just Before Harvest

Stormy weather in western parts of Greece pummeled olive trees at the worst possible moment.

Nov. 21, 2017
By Costas Vasilopoulos

Recent News

The recent unset­tled weather in west­ern Greece, along with the floods it brought and the tragic toll on human lives it took in Attica, did not leave the olive crop unaf­fected. The storm called Eury­dice that ham­mered many parts of the coun­try brought along strong winds, rain and hail.

And while some rain can be highly appre­ci­ated by olive grow­ers, hail is some­thing they fear most for obvi­ous rea­sons: it hits hard on the trees and causes a lot of dam­age, not only on the fruits but on the branches and the leaves as well, ren­der­ing the trees sus­cep­ti­ble to dis­ease such as pathogens that use the wounds as a gate­way to infect the plants.

In many areas, olives fell to the ground after gales and hail­storms had swept the olive groves. In the Aeto­lia-Acar­na­nia region, north of Patras, approx­i­mately 12,000 olive trees were hit by hail which caused almost total destruc­tion. Extended dam­ages were reported near Mes­so­longi, Agrinio, and the low­lands of Neo­chorio, where table olives of the Kala­mon cul­ti­var are grown.

In the Ilia region in Pelo­pon­nesus, hail­stones the size of small nuts hit olive trees at higher lev­els and put local pro­duc­ers in despair. Half an hour of hail was enough for the olives to fall to the ground and many groves were cov­ered by a thick car­pet of olive fruit.

Even the fruit that remained on the olive trees were harmed. On top of that, the wind swept the trees of their leaves.

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The cur­rent har­vest­ing sea­son was about to begin and it was eagerly antic­i­pated because the yield was expected to be more than sat­is­fac­tory, but the hail was an onslaught that pro­duc­ers had not seen com­ing.

Other areas in the coun­try were hit by the stormy weather like the island of Corfu and the regions of Argol­ida, Korinthia, Messinia, and Lako­nia.

Many olive and cit­rus groves were dam­aged, espe­cially in west­ern Mani, part of the Messinia region, where major dam­age was inflicted on the trees at a time that most pro­duc­ers were just start­ing to har­vest.

Noth­ing sim­i­lar had hap­pened there for at least sev­enty years, the locals said.

Olive oil grow­ers and pro­duc­ers will be eli­gi­ble for com­pen­sa­tion, and the local author­i­ties have started to inspect the affected areas and doc­u­ment the dam­age.

The weather fore­cast for the fol­low­ing cou­ple of weeks pre­dicts a shift to colder con­di­tions with no rain in most parts of Greece, so pro­duc­ers will hope­fully be able to har­vest olives with the weather on their side.





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