`After Drought, Downpours Wash Away Catalonian Harvest - Olive Oil Times

After Drought, Downpours Wash Away Catalonian Harvest

Nov. 17, 2011
Julie Butler

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First drought reduced the poten­tial olive har­vest then wide­spread rain washed much of it to the ground — caus­ing the loss of up to 70 per­cent of pro­duc­tion and more than €27 mil­lion ($36.6m), a farm­ers’ union in Catalonia reports.

The Unió de Pagesos said many plan­ta­tions in Catalonia had been lashed by last week’s down­pours. While the rain bodes well for the next har­vest, this year for many pro­duc­ers it isn’t worth har­vest­ing the few olives left on the trees now that the major­ity of pro­duc­tion is on the ground.”

In a press release, the union called on the Catalan Department of Agriculture to expe­dite direct aid for the worst-affected pro­duc­ers, to pre­vent them aban­don­ing their plan­ta­tions, and in the longer term to help put irri­ga­tion within their eco­nomic reach.

Three advan­tages of drip Irrigation

Meanwhile, drip irri­ga­tion of its olive hedgerows is a key plank of the super-inten­sive cul­ti­va­tion sys­tem used by Innoliva to pro­duce EVOO in Spain and Portugal, reports La Razon.

Innoliva head Miguel Rico said this type of irri­ga­tion had three main advantages.The first was envi­ron­men­tal — a 45 per­cent sav­ing in water, the sec­ond eco­nomic — it allowed year-round pro­duc­tion, and the third ben­e­fit was social — It cre­ates employ­ment through­out the year.”

While tra­di­tional cul­ti­va­tion usu­ally involves a den­sity of 75 – 125 trees/ha and inten­sive up to 300, Innoliva says its super-inten­sive cul­ti­va­tion of up to 2000 shrubs/ha poses no addi­tional stress to the land.

Another major goal for Innoliva is to build olive oil pro­cess­ing plants as close as pos­si­ble to its olive estates, ide­ally so the olives reach the mill within six hours of har­vest.

The first was inau­gu­rated last month by the com­pany at El Carapetal, in the Alentejo, in south-cen­tral Portugal, and has capac­ity for 50,000 tons of olives per sea­son.

Rico said that he’d next like to build a bio­mass plant to take advan­tage of waste such as prun­ing and pomace.

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