In Jaén, Olive Oil Production Collapse Worse Than Expected

New surveys indicate that overall yield in the Jaén region could fall below the lowest reported tonnage in a century.

Jaén, Spain
By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 13, 2022 17:03 UTC
Jaén, Spain

Growers in Jaén, one of the most impor­tant olive oil-pro­duc­ing areas in the world, have had to cope with har­vest vol­umes much lower than what was fore­cast. This year’s har­vest might end up being the low­est ever in mod­ern his­tory.

After its lat­est sur­vey, the farm­ing asso­ci­a­tion COAG Jaén described the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion as a true dis­as­ter” and def­i­nitely worse than any pre­vi­ous pro­jec­tion.

See Also:Climate Change Taking a Toll on Andalusian Olive Oil Production

According to COAG Jaén, the cur­rent cam­paign could pro­duce 140 thou­sand tons of olive oil. That is two thou­sand tons less than the 142.849 thou­sand tons reported in the 2012/2013 sea­son, which had been con­sid­ered the worst har­vest in a cen­tury.

The asso­ci­a­tion explained that the ini­tial fore­casts could not take into account what hap­pened in October and November. The lack of pre­cip­i­ta­tion in those two months has been unusual and has greatly lim­ited the har­vest pro­jec­tions, down­wards mod­i­fy­ing the cal­cu­la­tions made,” the asso­ci­a­tion wrote.

COAG Jaén detailed the num­bers com­ing from its asso­ciates. In areas such as Jimena or Las Escuelas, the aver­age 60 to 70 kilo­grams har­vested from every tree dropped to 8 to 10 kilo­grams.

They had ini­tially expected for the cur­rent year to har­vest 50 per­cent less olives, down to 30 to 35 kilos,” the asso­ci­a­tion explained the strik­ing dif­fer­ences between the first esti­mates and the cur­rent sce­nario. Local pro­duc­ers, there­fore, should expect to har­vest just a frac­tion of what was fore­cast.

In other areas, such as Mancha Real, olive oil pro­duc­tion seems to be drop­ping 60 to 80 per­cent, with local grow­ers report­ing trees that typ­i­cally reach around 50 kilo­grams of olives now being har­vested at 15.

In the La Loma region, in Torreperogil, well-irri­gated olive trees, which usu­ally offer an aver­age har­vest of six thou­sand kilo­grams per hectare, are now stay­ing at one thou­sand kilo­grams,” wrote COAG Jaén.

In other areas, such as Fuerte del Rey, rain­fed olive trees are almost com­pletely fruit­less, while irri­gated orchards are down 30 per­cent. Two local coop­er­a­tives, whose aver­age yield exceeds nine mil­lion kilos, now expect to har­vest two mil­lion.

In Mengíbar, COAG Jaén also reported a greater drop than pre­vi­ously expected, with trees pro­duc­ing 80 kilos on aver­age now reduced to 20.

The same hap­pens in Porcuna, where Mariano de la Rosa points out that of the 3,800 kilos on aver­age that are col­lected per hectare, they will barely col­lect 13 per­cent, about 500 kilos per hectare,” wrote the asso­ci­a­tion.

In Alcalá la Real Francisco Cano, who usu­ally reports an aver­age har­vest of 4,000 kilos per hectare, good rain­fed olive groves, this year is expect­ing about 800 kilos per hectare,” COAG Jaén added.

The excep­tional drought con­di­tions that have affected Spain, includ­ing the Jaén area, since last win­ter are exert­ing long-last­ing effects on the trees, whose branches are much more frag­ile and dry than in the past.

See Also:Study Reveals Impacts of Climate Change on Spanish Olive Sector

One of COAG Jaén’s experts, Juan Carlos Hervás, noted that farm­ers must adapt to the new sit­u­a­tion. Harvesting oper­a­tions can now eas­ily dam­age the trees, since their roots are suf­fer­ing, and the trunk is stripped, which is why rods are being used instead of machin­ery,” he noted.

The sig­nif­i­cant drop in Jaén olive oil pro­duc­tion exem­pli­fies an already grim sce­nario for Spanish olive oil pro­duc­tion.

In its note, COAG Jaén under­lined how even before the revised fore­cast for Jaén, Andalusian offi­cial esti­mates showed a 49.1 per­cent drop in pro­duc­tion from the pre­vi­ous har­vest, down to 587 thou­sand tons of olive oil.

And now, the lack of pre­cip­i­ta­tion this fall is hav­ing a larger-than-expected effect on the over­all yield for the region.

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