French Olive Sector Anticipates 50 Percent Harvest Loss

Scorching summer temperatures and the region's prolonged drought have resulted in a significantly lower fruit set in France and a significantly smaller harvest.
Woman picking olives by hand in the south of france
By Simon Roots
Aug. 16, 2022 14:52 UTC

Following pre­dic­tions of record har­vest losses in Italy and Spain, France Olive has warned that this year’s extreme weather events are likely to result in 50 per­cent losses for the olive har­vest in France as well.

According to data from the International Olive Council, France pro­duced 4,600 tons of olive oil in the 2021/22 crop year, which was also marked by sev­eral cli­matic chal­lenges.

See Also:2022 Olive Harvest

France Olive said 2022 has been marked by record heat and drought in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, which accounts for more than 60 per­cent of French olive oil pro­duc­tion.

The orga­ni­za­tion added that this summer’s heat­waves fol­low one another and have had fre­quent adverse effects on pro­duc­tion.”

Although the olive tree is par­tic­u­larly resis­tant to heat and drought, water plays a cru­cial role in cer­tain stages of the plan­t’s life cycle. The tree is forced to sac­ri­fice ele­ments of its nor­mal bio­log­i­cal processes to sur­vive a drought, thereby sav­ing avail­able resources.

“[France has] had excep­tion­ally hot years before, but this is dif­fer­ent,” said Laurent Bélorgey, a pro­ducer and the pres­i­dent of France Olive. The drought occurred at the time of flow­er­ing… only 20 per­cent of our crops in France are irri­gated. This is the first time we’ve seen [drought] hap­pen on this scale.”

France had the dri­est July ever recorded, and the sum­mer has already seen three heat­waves. Additionally, the swel­ter­ing and dry sum­mer has been made worse by a lack of snow that fell in the Alps dur­ing the win­ter, as melt­wa­ter forms a sig­nif­i­cant part of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur’s water sup­ply.

According to the European Commission, about half of the European Union is cur­rently fac­ing a drought risk due to the pro­longed absence of rain­fall, rais­ing fears of sig­nif­i­cant har­vest losses across mul­ti­ple sec­tors, with tra­di­tional rain-fed olive groves, par­tic­u­larly at risk.


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