Farmers in Córdoba Fear Lasting Effects of Prolonged Drought

The lack of rainfall and scarce water resources mean trees may not receive enough water this winter to produce fruit and oil in 2023.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 5, 2022 15:00 UTC

Water scarcity is hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant effect on the olive har­vest across Spain this year. However, grow­ers in Córdoba now fear that the impact of the drought might extend into the 2023 har­vest.

Some rain­fall in the last few weeks in parts of the coun­try was insuf­fi­cient to replen­ish largely-evap­o­rated water resources. As a result, the coun­try’s reser­voirs are still well below their aver­age capac­ity, and dis­cus­sions are ongo­ing at the national and local lev­els to deter­mine and man­age water use pri­or­i­ties.

We can only hope for rain­fall to set in in these weeks to improve the well­be­ing of the olive groves.- Ignacio Fernández de Mesa, pres­i­dent, Asaja Córdoba

Asaja Córdoba, an asso­ci­a­tion of young farm­ers and ranch­ers, warned there might not be enough pre­cip­i­ta­tion this autumn and win­ter for olive trees to pro­duce fruit next year.

The asso­ci­a­tion said less drought-stricken areas have already started har­vest­ing and trans­form­ing their olives, with yields well below aver­age. The phe­nom­e­non is due to both a reduced quan­tity of fruits and water stress, which low­ered the oil accu­mu­la­tion in the dru­pes.

See Also:2022 Harvest Updates

The drought we are cop­ing with will have a larger impact on olives size, leav­ing us with smaller fruits,” said Ignacio Fernández de Mesa, pres­i­dent of the asso­ci­a­tion. That is why we can only hope for rain­fall to set in in these weeks to improve the well­be­ing of the olive groves.”

In the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, de Mesa warned that yields in the province are expected to be halved, result­ing in €500 mil­lion in losses in the 2022/23 crop year.

Asaja Córdoba also noted that the pro­duc­tion decrease would fur­ther affect farm­ers already fac­ing sky­rock­et­ing fuel, energy and fer­til­iz­ers costs.

According to the asso­ci­a­tion, diesel fuel prices have risen from €0.56 to €1.30 per liter in less than one year. Likewise, fer­til­izer prices have increased 105 per­cent in the same period, ris­ing from €380 per ton to €780 per ton.

However, the sig­nif­i­cant yield reduc­tion in Córdoba is not a sur­prise. Similar trends have been observed across Andalusia, the world’s largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region, and in other sig­nif­i­cant Spanish olive-grow­ing regions.

The Spanish Ministry for Agriculture, Fishery and Food pub­lished offi­cial esti­mates con­firm­ing a 48 per­cent decrease in Spanish olive oil pro­duc­tion.

The min­istry esti­mates olive oil yields to reach 773,881 tons in 2022/23, well below the 1,489,351 tons of the 2021/2022 sea­son.

According to the data, Andalusia has expe­ri­enced a 49 per­cent pro­duc­tion decrease. In Jaén, the largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing province in Andalusia, the yield is expected to fall 60 per­cent to 200,000 tons. Meanwhile, in Córdoba, pro­duc­tion is expected to reach 158,000 tons, a 47 per­cent drop.

Similar declines are expected in Extremadura (-53 per­cent), Spain’s third-largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region, while the Valencian Community antic­i­pates a 58 per­cent fall.

Slightly bet­ter news has come from Castilla-La Mancha, Spain’s sec­ond-largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region, which expects a 39 per­cent decrease and Catalonia, which antic­i­pates a 41 per­cent fall.


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