Extremadura Bucks the Trend of Below-Average Harvests in Spain

A steady increase in the number of intensive olive groves in the region may explain the rise in production.
Cáceres olive grove
By Daniel Dawson
Oct. 26, 2023 13:51 UTC

Despite expec­ta­tions of another his­tor­i­cally poor har­vest in Spain, olive oil pro­duc­tion in Extremadura is expected to exceed the yields achieved in recent years.

Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food esti­mated national olive oil pro­duc­tion would reach just 765,362 tons in the 2023/24 crop year, 34.4 per­cent below the four-year aver­age.

The increases are not uni­form in all areas due to very diverse cli­matic con­di­tions.- John Cancilla, sales man­ager, Marqués de Valdueza

However, the min­istry esti­mated that pro­duc­tion in Extremadura could be 73,000 tons, dou­ble last year’s yield and nearly 18 per­cent above the four-year aver­age.

In Extremadura, a lot of olive trees are being planted, and this is already begin­ning to show,” Juan Vilar, a strate­gic con­sul­tant for the olive oil sec­tor, told Olive Oil Times.

See Also:Another Poor Harvest in Andalusia Predicted

According to land use sur­veys from the agri­cul­ture min­istry, roughly 20,000 hectares of olive groves have been planted in the autonomous com­mu­nity since 2015, many of which are high-den­sity or super-high-den­sity.

However, this year’s pro­duc­tion increases are not being expe­ri­enced uni­ver­sally by pro­duc­ers across the autonomous com­mu­nity, the third-largest olive-grow­ing region in Spain, which is divided into the north­ern province of Cáceres and the south­ern province of Badajoz.

23/24 Prod. Estimate (t)
% Variation 22/23
% Variation 19 – 23 Avg.
Source: Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

It is true that pro­duc­tion will be high in Extremadura, in gen­eral, this year, but the region is very large, and the increases are not uni­form in all areas due to very diverse cli­matic con­di­tions,” John Cancilla, the sales man­ager of Badajoz-based Marqués de Valdueza, told Olive Oil Times.

We have not had the same luck as other pro­duc­ers in Extremadura, and our pro­duc­tion in kilo­grams of olives will be small this har­vest at best,” he added.

The har­vest at Marquez de Valdueza has just got­ten under­way. Cancilla said pre­lim­i­nary test­ing indi­cated qual­ity would be quite high due to hot and dry con­di­tions, but adverse weather resulted in fewer olives.

North of Marquez de Valdueza, in the province of Cáceres, high spring­time tem­per­a­tures dam­aged some trees and will result in a lower har­vest than last year.

This year’s har­vest will be 30 per­cent less than the pre­vi­ous year due to the heat of the full bloom that dec­i­mated the har­vest quite a bit,” Ana Sánchez de Granda, the gen­eral man­ager of Pago de los Baldios de San Carlos, told Olive Oil Times.

Jara Baztan, the sales man­ager of Huerta de la Vera, told Olive Oil Times that the Cáceres-based company’s har­vest is get­ting under­way, and yields have also suf­fered from cli­mate extremes.

Unfortunately, we do not have a har­vest greater than last year,” she said. We are in an area with quite extreme cli­mates, and we suf­fered very strong frosts dur­ing the flow­er­ing of the olives that have sig­nif­i­cantly reduced pro­duc­tion this year.”

Despite lower yields in the company’s groves, Baztan believes pro­duc­tion is increas­ing in Extremadura rel­a­tive to the rest of Spain for two rea­sons.

I imag­ine that pro­duc­tion is increas­ing in Extremadura because it is an alter­na­tive to other crops that are decreas­ing in pro­duc­tion in the area for var­i­ous rea­sons,” she said.

I sup­pose that the high olive oil prices reached in recent years is a moti­va­tion to bet on olive trees,” Baztan added. The same thing always hap­pens. When a prod­uct reaches high prices in the mar­ket in the fol­low­ing years, its pro­duc­tion increases.”

Despite the expected pro­duc­tion increase for the region com­pared to the rest of the coun­try, Baztan said Huerta de la Vera con­tin­ues to face the chal­lenge of con­sis­tently pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil and find­ing a niche for the increas­ingly pricey prod­uct in an unsta­ble mar­ket.

For his part, Cancilla said extreme weather con­di­tions had pre­sented the most sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges this year, adding that ris­ing pro­duc­tion costs would likely remain an issue for the fore­see­able future.

For Marqués de Valdueza, the largest chal­lenges this year come from the adverse weather, which has inter­ca­lated peri­ods of intense drought with extremely heavy rains,” he said.

We have mit­i­gated this prob­lem with a finely tuned water man­age­ment pro­gram… and an inte­grated pro­duc­tion sys­tem that uses to our best advan­tage the lim­ited resources that nature is giv­ing us these days,” Cancilla added.

He also pointed out the sharp rise in pro­duc­tion costs fac­ing Extremaduran pro­duc­ers due to the after­math of the Covid-19 pan­demic and con­flicts in Europe and the Middle East.

We are already see­ing higher fuel costs due to the con­fronta­tion [between Israel and Hamas], which will cer­tainly affect the entire econ­omy in Extremadura and, most point­edly, the trans­port, elec­tric­ity and other costs of inputs that go into our olive oil pro­duc­tion,” he con­cluded.


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