Olio Infiore

The lat­est report by the Italian insti­tute ISMEA says Italy’s olive oil pro­duc­tion in the 2017/​2018 sea­son reached 429,000 tons — a 135-​percent increase over the prior year (182,000 tons).

Italy has seen major increases in south­ern regions, start­ing with Puglia which exceeded the thresh­old of 200,000 tons, while Sicily and Calabria returned to nor­mal lev­els of pro­duc­tion. The same goes for Abruzzo, while other areas of cen­tral Italy suf­fered most from the effects of extreme weather con­di­tions. Meanwhile, qual­ity has remained at the high­est level, as proven by count­less recog­ni­tions obtained by the grow­ers across the Boot.
See more: This Year’s Best Olive Oils from Italy
Never able to rest on their lau­rels, farm­ers are now look­ing ahead to the upcom­ing har­vest. They are aware of the nat­ural ten­dency of olive trees for alter­nate bear­ing, com­bined with the con­se­quences of win­ter frosts.

They’re look­ing to limit the onset of pest infes­ta­tions such as the olive fruit fly and olive moth, and fun­gal dis­eases like olive pea­cock spot and anthrac­nose, favored by humid cli­mate and drop­ping tem­per­a­tures.

“Even so, thanks to a con­stant mon­i­tor­ing of olive groves we pre­vented the attack of the fly,” affirmed Angela Fiore, who man­ages Olio Infiore with her brother Tommaso. “We are now in the final phase of a great sea­son, dur­ing which still a proper man­age­ment of water scarcity-​related issues played a key role,” the pro­ducer from Puglia revealed.

The con­di­tion of their nine hun­dred plants of Coratina spread over the ter­ri­to­ries of Terlizzi and Bitonto, on the north side of Bari, pro­vides hope for another good har­vest, albeit a more com­plex one.

A slight decrease in pro­duc­tion could be caused by the effects of two years of extreme cold in a sec­tor of the orchard, where the farm­ers are still work­ing to recover the harmed plants.

Tommaso Fiore

“Despite this year’s cold snap had a shorter dura­tion than the last, night­time tem­per­a­tures affected some olive trees, break­ing the wood or burn­ing the top of canopies,” Fiore observed. “In the lat­ter case, how­ever, olive trees got bet­ter quickly, and for­tu­nately other plants affected by the bad weather of last sea­son fully recov­ered.”

“In par­tic­u­lar, in the most suf­fer­ing olive grove, olive trees were so asphyx­i­ated and des­ic­cated, we thought about get­ting rid of them. But in the end, thanks to a great team­work, we were able to save the plants which are flour­ish­ing and healthy again. When you res­cue an olive tree that seemed doomed, you feel an inde­scrib­able feel­ing of joy,” she added.

Fiore allowed her­self only a few days of vaca­tion because she has a close rela­tion­ship with her olive trees. As they are con­vert­ing to organic farm­ing with timely actions with allowed treat­ments and traps against the olive fruit fly, they move con­fi­dently towards the next har­vest.

At Colle Nobile, last sea­son was fair in terms of quan­tity, and qual­i­ta­tively excel­lent, thanks to the con­stant com­mit­ment of Giorgio Tonti, who man­ages 1,600 trees on the hills of the Marche region. In the lands of Jesi and San Marcello, he pro­duces five mono­va­ri­etals from the autochtho­nous cul­ti­vars Raggia, Mignola, and Rosciola dei Colli Esini, and the more wide­spread Frantoio and Leccino.

“Sometimes extreme tem­per­a­tures helped us, as it was the case with the [the olive fruit fly], whose devel­op­ment last sum­mer was com­pletely blocked by the heat,” Tonti noted. “Basically, the sea­son went well, while this year we might have a small decrease in vol­umes, as part of our olive trees suf­fered from the low tem­per­a­tures reg­is­tered in February.”

Giorgio Tonti

The Frantoio and Raggia were affected more than the oth­ers on Tonti’s farm, and he had to per­form a dras­tic prun­ing of some plants. “Mignola, which gen­er­ally has a good frost resis­tance, also had prob­lems but to a lesser extent, while Rosciola dei Colli Esini responded very well, and this seems to be a high-​yield year for this cul­ti­var, which hope­fully will give us a great har­vest together with Leccino.”

Tonti said researchers have shown an inter­est in fur­ther inves­ti­gat­ing the vari­eties con­sid­ered more resis­tant to cold tem­per­a­tures.

As for the olive fruit fly, he already noticed a neg­li­gi­ble pres­ence due to weather con­di­tions. “As soon as we find any ovipo­si­tion or more catches in the traps, we are ready to use appro­pri­ate organic prod­ucts.”

Highlighting the impor­tance of a sus­tain­able approach to high-​quality olive grow­ing, the farmer con­cluded, “our extra vir­gin olive oil with its unique organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics, is the healthy result of agri­cul­ture in bal­ance with nature.”


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