Award-Winning Producers on Šolta Prepare for Modest Harvest

The Zlatna Šoltanka cooperative is preparing for a 25-percent lower yield than last year’s. Still, its founder emphasizes that quality trumps quantity.
Harvest on Šolta
Sep. 30, 2021
Jasmina Nevada

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Prolonged drought on the Croatian island of Šolta has led farm­ers there to pre­dict a 25 decrease in olive oil pro­duc­tion for the upcom­ing 2021/22 har­vest.

Šolta is located on an arch­i­pel­ago off the Adriatic coast of the south­ern region of Dalmatia and is typ­i­cally known for its mild win­ters and hot, dry sum­mers. However, these sum­mers seem to be get­ting hot­ter and drier.

We har­vest early and process mostly green olives imme­di­ately after har­vest because the high fruiti­ness, spici­ness and fresh­ness of our oil are more impor­tant to us than high yield.- Zlatko Burić, pres­i­dent, Zlatna Šoltanka

The dry year affected Dalmatian olive grow­ers,” Zlatko Burić, pres­i­dent of Zlatna Šoltanka, an asso­ci­a­tion com­pris­ing the island’s 20 pro­duc­ers, told Olive Oil Times. The num­ber of olive trees that coped well with a long period with­out rain is between one-third to one half.”

See Also: 2021 Harvest Updates

However, the qual­ity could be extremely high,” he added. The oil could have a slightly more pro­nounced bit­ter­ness and spici­ness, which will not stop fans of olive oil from con­tin­u­ing to enjoy it, just because of such prop­er­ties.”

According to Burić, the island pro­duced 2,000 liters of organic extra vir­gin olive oil in 2020/21, slightly down from the 3,500 liters pro­duced in 2019/20. This year, he antic­i­pates that pro­duc­ers will yield about 1,500 liters.

International Olive Council data show that Croatia pro­duced 4,600 tons of olive oil in the 2020/21 crop year, the high­est total since 2016/17.

Along with most other Croatian pro­duc­ers, Burić, who har­vests 150 Šoltanka and 100 Oblica trees, said that Zlatna Šoltanka focuses on qual­ity rather than quan­tity.

In 2016, olive oil pro­duced on Šolta received Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) sta­tus from the European Union, which has helped con­sol­i­date pro­duc­ers’ push for qual­ity.

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The island of Šolta

We choose only the best fruits for pro­cess­ing into oil because quan­tity is less impor­tant to us than qual­ity,” he said. We har­vest early and process mostly green olives imme­di­ately after har­vest because the high fruiti­ness, spici­ness and fresh­ness of our oil are more impor­tant to us than high yield.”

Burić added that olive grow­ers on the island have long relied on ances­tral knowl­edge of land­scap­ing, tra­di­tional olive vari­eties, graft­ing and prun­ing to pro­duce high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil.

However, the recent devel­op­ment of mod­ern milling facil­i­ties and stor­age tech­niques, com­bined with the deci­sion of the pro­duc­ers to start work­ing together has allowed Zlatna Šoltanka to become a brand that can com­pete inter­na­tion­ally.

We are look­ing for a mar­ket that is will­ing to pay a higher price for the high­est qual­ity,” Burić said. Dalmatian olive grow­ers, encour­aged by suc­cesses at inter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, espe­cially at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, have set out to con­quer the demand­ing mar­ket together.”


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