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Olive Oil Production in Italy to Exceed Original Estimates

The latest figures from Ismea, in collaboration with Unaprol, show Italy’s olive oil production is expected to exceed 300,000 tons this year.

An olive grove in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Florence
Dec. 19, 2019
By Ylenia Granitto
An olive grove in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Florence

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Fore­casts drawn up by the Insti­tute of Ser­vices for the Agri­cul­tural and Food Mar­ket (Ismea), in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the national orga­ni­za­tion of olive oil pro­duc­ers, Unaprol, say Italy’s olive oil pro­duc­tion in 2019/20 sea­son could reach 321,000 tons, an increase of 84 per­cent com­pared to last year.

The fig­ure is slightly higher than the aver­age of the last four years,” Ismea mar­ket ana­lyst, Tiziana Sarnari, told Olive Oil Times. We should how­ever con­sider that dur­ing the pre­vi­ous cam­paign, as well as in 2016, the vol­umes pro­duced by the Ital­ian farm­ers were very low.”

Despite the cli­mate issues, which have become increas­ingly fre­quent at a global level, pro­duc­tion increased, within a frame­work which appears to be dia­met­ri­cally opposed to last year.- Tiziana Sarnari, Ismea mar­ket ana­lyst

Still, this year, despite the cli­mate issues, which have become increas­ingly fre­quent at a global level, pro­duc­tion increased, within a frame­work which appears to be dia­met­ri­cally opposed to last year, with a sub­stan­tial growth in the south and a decline in the cen­ter and north,” she added.

Ismea high­lights that this crop year many farm­ers first had to cope with a ther­mal shock, caused by exces­sive cold dur­ing flow­er­ing. This was fol­lowed by the sud­den arrival of hot weather dur­ing set­ting, which, along with a hot and dry sum­mer, caused con­sid­er­able water stress on the trees. Finally, in the autumn, winds and thun­der­storms slowed down the har­vest­ing oper­a­tions.

See more: 2019 Har­vest News

The effects of the freez­ing weather of March 2018 also has played a part in deter­min­ing this year’s yield.

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In con­trast, other zones ben­e­fited from sea­sonal rain­falls and favor­able tem­per­a­tures. This ensured a good flow­er­ing, which in turn led to an ade­quate pol­li­na­tion and, sub­se­quently, a good fruit set­ting.

In most of south­ern Italy, ideal spring weather guar­an­teed proper veg­e­ta­tive devel­op­ment, which soon brought hope for an uptick in pro­duc­tion.

Good signs of recov­ery have been seen in Puglia, which under ideal con­di­tions accounts for half of the national pro­duc­tion, but last year recorded a 65-per­cent drop as a con­se­quence of severe frosts.

The province of Bari-Andria-Trani enjoyed a major increase in yields. In Salento, apart from the unpro­duc­tive areas affected by Xylella fas­tidiosa, pro­duc­tion from the healthy orchards is expected to be higher than last year, thanks to abun­dant spring rains, which guar­an­teed good devel­op­ment dur­ing the flow­er­ing and fruit set­ting phases.

Larger vol­umes also are expected in Cal­abria, espe­cially from the groves located on the Ion­ian side of the province of Reg­gio Cal­abria and in the area of Cosenza. Catan­zaro also enjoyed a good veg­e­ta­tive devel­op­ment, while a slight down­turn com­pared with orig­i­nal esti­mates may be caused by some vari­eties head­ing into an off-year.

An abun­dant flow­er­ing in Sicily had led to high expec­ta­tions among experts. How­ever, the occur­rence of unfa­vor­able weather events dur­ing fruit set­ting will likely lead to a lower yield than expected. Still, high lev­els of qual­ity are expected since pests did not cause any real dam­age to the fruit.

A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion occurred in Sar­dinia, espe­cially in the south­ern part of the island, where a hot and dry sum­mer, which hin­dered opti­mal veg­e­ta­tive growth, should not impact the upward trend.

Fig­ures are also promis­ing in Basil­i­cata and Molise, in spite of less than ideal weather con­di­tions dur­ing the warmer months.

In Cam­pa­nia, early-ripen­ing vari­eties had some prob­lems due to the heat dur­ing fruit set­ting, while oth­ers, such as Roton­della, enjoyed excel­lent results. In Abruzzo, increased pro­duc­tion is also expected and will be boosted mainly by high yields from the province of Chi­eti.

In Lazio, a recov­ery is expected com­pared to last year, but the pro­duc­tion may be below its poten­tial level since many reform prun­ings have been car­ried out in the olive groves affected by the Burian (the Ital­ian name for the Beast from the East) cold wave.

In the Marche region, many olive trees are also on the road to recov­ery after Burian. Addi­tion­ally, low tem­per­a­tures in the spring have caused delays in the flow­er­ing of vari­eties such as Lec­cino and Fran­toio in some areas, where a mod­er­ate growth can be expected.

The pic­ture changes in the cen­tral regions of Umbria and Tus­cany, which will prob­a­bly reg­is­ter a 30-per­cent drop com­pared to last year. The afore­men­tioned issues are at the base of the strong decrease pre­dicted by the experts in Lig­uria; Veneto; the whole Lake Garda area, which includes Lom­bardy and Trentino; and Friuli Venezia Giu­lia.

Only in Pied­mont, the sit­u­a­tion would pre­sum­ably be unchanged com­pared with the last cam­paign.

Accord­ing to our esti­mates, based on data by the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the world olive oil pro­duc­tion in 2019 will exceed the thresh­old of three mil­lion tons, which is, despite a small decline, still in line with the vol­umes pro­duced last year,” Sarnari said.

An esti­mated drop of 30 per­cent for Spain, should be there­fore off­set by the growth of Italy and other Mediter­ranean coun­tries such as Greece, with a 62-per­cent increase, Tunisia, with more than dou­ble fig­ures com­pared to last year, and Por­tu­gal, whose pro­duc­tion should grow by 25 per­cent.”





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