Heavy Downpours Dampen Harvest Outlook in Greece

Many producing regions, especially in the western part of the country, were hit with a deluge that some farmers say is becoming more common.

By Costas Vasilopoulos
Nov. 8, 2021 10:40 UTC

While olive grow­ers and pro­duc­ers are prepar­ing for the upcom­ing har­vest­ing sea­son in Greece, sev­eral of the country’s most pro­duc­tive regions have been bat­tered by heavy down­pours and gusts of wind.

Severe dam­age, includ­ing flooded groves, bro­ken olive trees and dru­pes destroyed by hail, was reported by pro­duc­ers in the Ionian islands, parts of the cen­tral main­land, Crete, the west­ern Peloponnese and the Halkidiki penin­sula in the north.

The recent gales and tor­ren­tial rains that swept our area caused exces­sive destruc­tion, hardly leav­ing any fruits on many of our olive trees.- Nikolaos Kalliafas, olive grower in Aetolia-Acarnania

The weather phe­nom­ena were espe­cially intense in the region of Aetolia-Acarnania in cen­tral-west Greece, the largest pro­duc­ing ter­ri­tory of Kalamon table olives in the coun­try, where farm­ers were con­fronted with storms and extremely high lev­els of rain.

See Also:2021 Harvest Updates

The land in our area is very fer­tile, and we pro­duce top-qual­ity olives of the Kalamon vari­ety,” Nikolaos Kalliafas, an olive grower based in Gouries, near the delta of Acheloos River, told Olive Oil Times.

The recent gales and tor­ren­tial rains that swept our area caused exces­sive destruc­tion, hardly leav­ing any fruits on many of our olive trees,” he added. I am 51, and I have been in the fields since I was a lit­tle boy. I have never seen such erratic weather before.”

Kalliafas also noted that the weather-related prob­lems in the area are noth­ing new but began to appear two to three years ago.

For more than two years now, our pro­duc­tion of edi­ble olives has turned sour,” he said. This sea­son, things are worse since I am expect­ing to get only half of the quan­tity pro­duced the pre­vi­ous sea­son.”

The decline in pro­duc­tion is not due to the [alter­nate bear­ing] pro­duc­tion cycle of the trees or any­thing else, but due to the abnor­mal weather which brought unusu­ally warm days in spring and com­plete drought in the sum­mer, seri­ously impact­ing the fruition of our olive trees,” Kalliafas added.

The recent storms were just the fin­ish­ing touch, and we also have to worry about the gloeospo­rium pathogen [also known as olive lep­rosy], which emerges when increased lev­els of humid­ity exist,” he con­tin­ued. We can’t apply any crop-dust­ing oper­a­tions now since we start har­vest­ing in five days.”

More pro­duc­ers in the area also described a grim sit­u­a­tion, with their olive groves remain­ing under­wa­ter for sev­eral days, dam­ag­ing both the olive trees and their dru­pes.

The farm­ers asso­ci­a­tion of Agrinio, the largest city in the region, issued an announce­ment warn­ing that hard times are still to come for local farm­ers and olive grow­ers.

See Also:Greece Requests Aid for Expected Drop in Olive Oil and Table Olive Production

The local farm­ers have suf­fered another blow in their income, who are in despair after the dam­ages pre­vi­ously caused by the hail and frost, and the sig­nif­i­cant losses due to the reduced fruition of the olive and cit­rus trees,” the announce­ment read. The rural econ­omy of our area is on the verge of extinc­tion.”

In Crete, the impact of the bad weather on the island’s olive grow­ers was milder. However, many farm­ers in the region of Heraklion were affected, espe­cially in the areas of Monofatsi and Pediada.

Strong wind gusts and hail knocked olive fruits to the ground and inflicted dam­ages on the branches and trunks of the trees.

The intense hail­storms in var­i­ous areas of the Heraklion dis­trict have caused great destruc­tion in the coun­try­side,” said Vassilis Kegeroglou, the local mem­ber of the Greek par­lia­ment. The farm­ers can only count their wounds.”

Kegeroglou also called on the Ministry of Agriculture to record the dam­age caused by the storms and pro­vide com­pen­sa­tion to the affected farm­ers.

In terms of olive oil pro­duc­tion, a medium yield is expected on the island, accord­ing to Vaggelis Protogerakis, the head of the asso­ci­a­tion of Heraklion olive oil pro­duc­ers. Nonetheless, the rains proved ben­e­fi­cial in some areas, improv­ing the qual­ity of the oil.

This year, the pro­duc­tion [of olive oil] is expected to be reduced com­pared to last year,” Protogerakis said. Some areas will have [a good yield], but in no case can we talk about strong pro­duc­tion.”

Quality is expected to be great after the recent rains,” he added. However, the pro­jec­tion for reduced pro­duc­tion also applies to the rest of Greece…and the rest of the mem­ber states [of the E.U.] And this makes us hope for bet­ter pro­duc­ers’ prices in Crete.”

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