`Extreme Weather Takes Toll on Andalusian Olive Harvest - Olive Oil Times

Extreme Weather Takes Toll on Andalusian Olive Harvest

By David Uwakwe
Feb. 25, 2021 13:33 UTC

Andalusia’s olive oil pro­duc­tion in 2020 is expected to be up to 300,000 tons lower than pre­vi­ously pre­dicted, due to the effects of a hot, dry autumn fol­lowed by a record-break­ing cold win­ter.

According to fig­ures pub­lished by Andalusia’s regional gov­ern­ment, olive oil out­put in the 2020/21 crop year ranged between 1.05 and 1.1 mil­lion tons, sig­nif­i­cantly below its pre­vi­ous esti­mate of 1.348 mil­lion tons.

In a state­ment, the Andalusian agri­cul­ture min­istry high­lighted issues such as low rain­fall, high tem­per­a­tures in the autumn and dam­age caused by Atlantic storms, includ­ing Filomena, for the reduc­tion in out­put.

See Also:2020 Harvest Updates

The ini­tial esti­mate from last October was based on the aver­age yield of oil per kilo­gram of olives from pre­vi­ous sea­sons; how­ever, the extreme weather reduced that yield to its low­est level in 25 years.

This was due to unusu­ally high tem­per­a­tures in the first three weeks of November, which aver­aged around 15 ºC, more than two degrees higher than nor­mal. Meanwhile, there were 55 fewer liters of rain­fall per square meter than nor­mal between September and November. As a result, the oil yield fell from a his­tor­i­cal aver­age of 21 per­cent to 17.7 per­cent.

This was fol­lowed by Storm Filomena, which brought freez­ing tem­per­a­tures and caused some of the region’s trees to drop their olives. Farther north, Filomena dumped record lev­els of snow on Spain’s sec­ond-largest olive oil region, Castile-La Mancha, lead­ing to severe losses of unhar­vested olives and fur­ther dri­ving down Spain’s total olive oil yield.

Along with caus­ing imme­di­ate dam­age, the Andalusian Phytosanitary Information and Alert Network (RAIF) warned that recent mild tem­per­a­tures and wet weather had cre­ated the per­fect storm for fungi and other plant pathogens.

Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern to olive grow­ers will be the repilo fun­gus, which causes olive leaf spot and grows on wild olives. The spores can then spread to cul­ti­vated trees.

The spread of repilo fun­gus is not uncom­mon at the end of win­ter in south­ern Spain; how­ever, author­i­ties warn that it could be espe­cially bad ahead of the 2021 olive har­vest.

While the bad weather has taken its toll on the cur­rent har­vest, the big­ger prob­lem for Spanish pro­duc­ers remains the impact of American tar­iffs, accord­ing to Rafael Pico Lapuente, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Spanish Association of Olive Oil Exporting, Industry and Commerce (Asoliva).

The addi­tional tar­iffs on olive oil pro­duced and pack­aged in Spain have meant the loss of 80 per­cent of exports to the U.S.,” Pico Lapuente said. This is on top of some 100,000 tons that other E.U. coun­tries have stopped buy­ing from Spain since these coun­tries bot­tle the oil under their own brands and export it to the U.S.”

Producers and their asso­ci­a­tions have con­tin­ued to pres­sure the Spanish gov­ern­ment to nego­ti­ate with the U.S. to have the tar­iffs on agri­cul­tural goods, includ­ing pack­aged Spanish olive oils and green table olives, removed.

In turn, the Spanish gov­ern­ment has urged the European Commission to open new trade nego­ti­a­tions with the U.S.


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