Farmers in Italy Optimistic as Harvest Season Nears

Following a crippling harvest two years ago, and a strong one last year, Italian farmers remain diligent and optimistic as the 2016 harvest approaches.

Aug. 16, 2016
By Ylenia Granitto

Recent News

The last excel­lent har­vest and the pre­vi­ous bad one deserve credit for hav­ing equipped Italian man­u­fac­tur­ers with the weapons to safe­guard their olive trees and to make pro­duc­tion improve­ments.

They are putting in place tight mon­i­tor­ing against the occur­rence of pathogens, pay­ing closer atten­tion to cli­matic con­di­tions and car­ry­ing out increas­ingly fre­quent employ­ments of organic treat­ments that are prov­ing to be effec­tive.

We met some pro­duc­ers from dif­fer­ent regions south to north, and we found that, while a few areas had prob­lems due to hail and some olive groves had to face slight assaults of the olive fruit fly, the next har­vest is likely to fol­low a pos­i­tive trend.

Sicily

Secular trees of Santagatese flank more recently planted vari­eties like Verdello, Nocellara Messinese, Nocellara del Belice, Biancolilla and Giarraffa which com­pose the olive grove of Villa Colonna.

Run by Adele Giaconia and her hus­band and tech­ni­cal man­ager Salvatore Mocciaro, the farm is located near the sea at the door of the Nebrodi nat­ural park, in Reitano, in the province of Messina.

Adele Giaconia at Villa Colonna

The last har­vest was excel­lent both in terms of qual­ity and quan­tity and our mono­vari­atal Santagatese obtained sev­eral awards,” Mocciaro told Olive Oil Times. During win­ter, due to the mild tem­per­a­tures, the plants did not enter into veg­e­ta­tive rest and now the amount of fruit is lower than in the same period last year.

Some olives have been attacked by the fly. We applied a first treat­ment of kaolin in mid-July and, if needed, we will carry out another one before the har­vest,” Mocciaro explained. That will be done quite early, in late September, and from this point of view we will limit the dam­age of any addi­tional fly attack. We point to a very high stan­dard and I hope that, despite the smaller vol­ume, we will be able to bring per­fect fruits to the mill.”

Molise

Tenute Fierro is hero­ically posi­tioned over the nat­ural limit of olive grow­ing and, with its 800 m (2,625 ft) ele­va­tion, is one of the high­est olive groves of the region.

In the green heart of Molise, in Fossalto, in the province of Campobasso, Pasqualino Fierro pro­duces a blend of five pre­dom­i­nant vari­eties includ­ing the native Paesana Bianca, which has a low yield but gives a rich, herba­ceous and intensely bit­ter extra vir­gin olive oil, in con­junc­tion with Frantoio, Itrana, Coratina and Pendolino.

The plant­ing pat­tern of 6 x 5 meters was devised by Fierro in order to limit the prob­lems due to the sud­den and heavy snow­falls that some­times occur dur­ing win­ter. Our farmer explained that this year’s pro­duc­tion has increased com­pared to last year.

The olive grove was planted in 1994 and is grad­u­ally enlarg­ing its pro­duc­tion, with a trend that should go on for the next 7 – 8 years.” In addi­tion to the nat­ural atti­tude of the young plan­ta­tion, the high posi­tion gives a spe­cial pro­tec­tion from fly attacks thanks to the tem­per­a­ture. Fierro con­ducts his olive grove under organic man­age­ment and uses only green manure five times a year as fer­til­izer.

Some pro­duc­ers in the area expe­ri­enced hail­storms in May and June which affected pro­duc­tion. Fortunately, here the weather was per­fect with good tem­per­a­ture, nor­mal humid­ity and rain every 10 – 15 days as if it was a nor­mal irri­ga­tion,” he explained. I am opti­mistic for next har­vest”

Umbria

The farm Frantoio del Colle con­sists of a fam­ily-run olive grove and a three-phase mill located between Panicale and Piegaro, in the province of Perugia. Frantoio, Moraiolo, Leccino and Dolce Agogia, the typ­i­cal vari­ety of Lake Trasimeno, give life to a har­monic blend with notes of car­doon, bit­ter herbs and almond.

Renzo Pelagrilli

The period between October and December is very intense for me,” pointed out Elisa Galli, 28, who deals not only with the work in the field but also with the man­age­ment of the mill. Last har­vest was very good as we started to focus on close mon­i­tor­ing of the olive trees, both dur­ing the period of devel­op­ment of fruits and then dur­ing har­vest and at the mill. Now the fruits are abun­dant and in very good con­di­tions, in line with the nor­mal growth of the period.” She is appre­hen­sive when it rains for fear of hail­storms, but so far the cli­mate has been kind with no need for treat­ments.

Elisa Galli at Frantoio del Colle

After the last excel­lent pro­duc­tion we are mon­i­tor­ing the pres­ence of the fly, since the high tem­per­a­tures sud­denly low­ered by recent storms have increased humid­ity,” said Renzo Pelagrilli, who pro­duces the Olio Pelagrilli extra vir­gin olive oil from an olive grove in the medieval vil­lage of Monteleone d’Orvieto, in the province of Terni.

Azienda Agricola Renzo Pelagrilli

His plants of Leccino, Frantoio and Moraiolo, now under con­ver­sion to organic farm­ing, reg­is­ter cur­rently an amount of fruits higher than last year. He coped with a light fly attack that turned out to be irrel­e­vant. His Moraiolo, that last year encoun­tered dif­fi­cul­ties dur­ing the fruit set, is sur­pris­ingly bloom­ing. At this rate, he will have a good pro­duc­tion.”

Liguria

The last har­vest was excel­lent from all points of view,” said Roberto De Andreis, who helps his daugh­ters Lavinia and Lia in the man­age­ment of the farm Ca’ Rossa, which takes its name from the par­tic­u­lar cherry red color of the ground.

Lavinia,Roberto and Lia De Andreis

In Liguria, they pro­duce an excel­lent extra vir­gin olive oil from 32 acres of Taggiasca between Imperia and Chiusanico. Lavinia takes care of the olive grove that gives a har­monic mono­va­ri­etal with sweet taste and notes of almond.

This year the bloom was good but the cli­matic con­di­tions in recent months have meant that the expected quan­tity could be lower than last year,” De Andreis con­sid­ered. Regarding qual­ity, every­thing depends on con­di­tions like rain and humid­ity that could facil­i­tate the fly onset. During the remain­ing months of August and September, we will be on the alert to guar­an­tee another great pro­duc­tion.”


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