Japan’s Olive Harvest Gets Underway Amid Typhoon Season

Producers in Japan expect this year’s yield to match last year’s. However, typhoon season has led to different outcomes across the country.

Ushimado Olive Garden
By Paolo DeAndreis
Oct. 20, 2021 08:09 UTC
Ushimado Olive Garden

Flooding, land­slides, and heavy rain­fall are among the chal­lenges fac­ing Japanese olive farm­ers as the first cool days of autumn took place in the coun­try’s north­ern regions.

Further down the East Asian arch­i­pel­ago, the weather is also chang­ing, with winds becom­ing stronger and clouds darker as the olive har­vest gets under­way in cen­tral and south­ern regions of the coun­try.

Maybe it is global warm­ing affect­ing the weather, but it really seems as if the har­vest­ing sea­son gets ear­lier every year.- Nobuyuki Hiraiwa, pres­i­dent, Agri Olive Shodoshima

We look out for pos­si­ble typhoons and extreme phe­nom­ena which typ­i­cally occur dur­ing the har­vest­ing weeks,” Tatsuya Okumura, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Crea Farm, told Olive Oil Times.

His com­pany, located in cen­tral Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture, pro­duces some of the most renowned Japanese extra vir­gin olive oils, two of which were awarded at the 2021 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

See Also:2021 Harvest Updates

Up to now, we did not expe­ri­ence heavy weather events, so we are quite excited for our new har­vest­ing sea­son,” Okumura said.

Given the rainy sum­mer, grow­ers at Crea Farm have been exam­in­ing their trees to find any sign of pathogen or pests. We found a very good sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

Like other pro­duc­ers in cen­tral Japan, Okumura esti­mates that this year’s olive oil yield will be com­pa­ra­ble to the last sea­son. According to data from Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants, Japan pro­duced about 30 tons of olive oil in the 2020/21 crop year.

We do not expect sig­nif­i­cantly larger vol­umes in the future since our trees are cur­rently full of fruits,” he added.

The har­vest­ing sea­son is also start­ing on Shodoshima, an island off the coast of south-cen­tral Japan known for its unique cli­mate, which closely resem­bles Mediterranean weather.

Some of the country’s best extra vir­gin olive oil is pro­duced on the island. However, pro­duc­ers said that this year’s har­vest has been affected by severe weather events since early spring.


Ushimado Olive Garden

The rainy sea­son began just before flow­er­ing, and as we exam­ined the fruit set, which looked affected by the rain, we felt it not to be good as usual,” Nobuyuki Hiraiwa, pres­i­dent of Agri Olive Shodoshima, told Olive Oil Times.

Hiraiwa, another NYIOOC win­ner, empha­sized how heavy and fre­quent rain­fall inun­dated his groves in August and September.

We did not have to face extreme events, but due to the high vol­umes of rain­fall dur­ing the sum­mer, we are on the look­out for poten­tial large out­breaks of pathogens and pests in the future,” Hiraiwa said.

He explained that fruits seem to be ripen­ing ear­lier, which does not rep­re­sent a prob­lem for the over­all qual­ity since our olives are har­vested accord­ing to their ripeness. Still, olive oil yields might be slightly reduced this year.”

Hiraiwa thinks that cli­mate change may be affect­ing the weather on the island, forc­ing him to begin har­vest­ing ear­lier and ear­lier each year.

Maybe it is global warm­ing affect­ing the weather, but it really seems as if the har­vest­ing sea­son gets ear­lier every year,” he said, adding how some cul­ti­vars are specif­i­cally affected by the cli­matic changes.


Ushimado Olive Garden

We have to pro­ceed with Lucca har­vest ear­lier, and it seems it is now time to review our har­vest­ing sched­ule and press­ing processes accord­ingly,” Hiraiwa said.

Rain has helped the olive trees of the Ushimado Olive Garden, a com­pany in cen­tral-south­ern Japan that has earned var­i­ous acco­lades at the NYIOOC.

Yes, we also had to face the effect of typhoons and heavy rain­fall. But in the end, those brought more water in August, which is typ­i­cally dry, so that is good for over­all fruit vol­umes,” said Hiroshi Kurihara, the tech­ni­cal direc­tor at Ushimado.

Farmers at Ushimado have just started har­vest­ing the many old and large olive trees that were planted on the island in the 1940s, to which many oth­ers have been added over time, Kurihara added.

The farms’ pro­jec­tions are for vol­umes com­pa­ra­ble to those of the pre­vi­ous sea­son. Regarding qual­ity, the com­pany expects top results.

On September 22, we began con­duct­ing a few tests of our new olive oil,” he said. It has a very round bou­quet, even if clearly bit­ter and pun­gent, the per­fect basis for our Ushimado and Ushimado Superior extra vir­gin olive oils.


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