Olive Oil Production in Greece Expected to Slip

Greek olive oil production will be off 20 percent from last year's yield, early estimates say.
Oct. 5, 2021
Costas Vasilopoulos

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Some ini­tial esti­mates in Greece sug­gest that sev­eral regions will have lower olive oil yields in the 2021/22 crop year com­pared to the pro­duc­tion of 2020/21.

The com­mon thread for the reduced crop is the erratic weather, which has dis­rupted the typ­i­cal cli­matic con­di­tions in spe­cific areas.

The micro­cli­mate in our area is chang­ing, with unex­pected spring­time frosts and sum­mer heat waves that stress out our trees. Adapting to… these obsta­cles is the only way to go for­ward.- Dimitris Adamidis, pro­ducer, Konos olive oil mill

At a national level, the esti­mates pre­dict that the total quan­tity of olive oil is likely to amount to around 215,000 tons, a decrease of more than 15 per­cent from the 255,000 tons pro­duced in 2020/21.

See Also: 2021 Harvest Updates

In the tra­di­tion­ally most boun­ti­ful olive oil-pro­duc­ing regions, includ­ing Crete and south­ern Peloponnese, a medium to low har­vest is pre­dicted for most areas.

In the dis­trict of Heraklion in Crete, the largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing region of the island, olive oil pro­duc­tion is expected to reach approx­i­mately 32,500 tons, accord­ing to the local depart­ment of agri­cul­ture.

The expected quan­tity of olive oil lags far behind the max­i­mum pro­duc­tion capac­ity of the area, which, in good times, ranges well over 50,000 tons of olive oil.

Some late rains, how­ever, would be a game-changer and increase the vol­ume of the sea­son’s olive oil, mem­bers of local agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tions told Ypaithros agri­cul­tural news por­tal.

The pro­duc­tion [of olive oil] could reach 40,000 tons if it rains the next few days and we get mild weather after­ward, oth­er­wise it will total at around 30,000 tons,” they said.

Meanwhile, on the west­ern side of the island, Chania is expected to per­form lower than the pre­vi­ous sea­son, pro­duc­ing around 19,000 tons of olive oil com­pared with 25,000 tons pro­duced in 2020/21.

In the fire-stricken area of Ilia, in the Peloponnese, pro­duc­tion is likely to reach 20,000 tons com­pared to around 25,000 tons expected before the wild­fires broke out in August. Besides the hot and dry sum­mer that wore out the olive trees, the region paid a heavy toll with a total of 375,000 olive trees burned or dam­aged by the fires.

Messinia, the largest pro­duc­ing region on the penin­sula, is likely to reach some 48,000 tons, the esti­mates sug­gested, near­ing last sea­son’s pro­duc­tion of 52,000 tons.

In the neigh­bor­ing dis­trict of Lakonia, the ini­tial pro­jec­tions of last August sug­gest­ing a yield of approx­i­mately 24,000 tons of olive oil have been revised down­wards at around 16,000 tons for the dis­trict.

However, the reduced-crop pat­tern is not ubiq­ui­tous, with some pro­duc­ing areas of the dis­trict set for sub­stan­tial olive oil yields.

It is going to be a great sea­son for us,” the own­ers of the Cheliotis olive oil mill in the vil­lage of Vlachiotis, in south­ern Lakonia, told Olive Oil Times. The pre­vi­ous har­vest­ing sea­son was empty.”

Only 300 tons of olive oil were pro­duced at our mill, but this sea­son we aim for the pro­duc­tion of more than 1,000 tons,” they added. We did­n’t have par­tic­u­lar prob­lems with the weather and we expect to get olive oil of excel­lent qual­ity since there was no man­i­fes­ta­tion of the fruit fly in our area. Several nearby vil­lages, includ­ing Skala, Gouves, Asteri and Kato Glykovrysi, also expect strong pro­duc­tion.”

The adverse weather has also left its mark in north­ern Greece, where most olive oil-pro­duc­ing regions are likely to receive half of last sea­son’s pro­duc­tion.

In the areas of Alexandroupolis and Kavala, the blos­som­ing of the olive trees was affected by the unfore­seen frost of last April, while the sit­u­a­tion has been fur­ther dete­ri­o­rated by the recent hail storms that hit the groves in the areas of Evros and Rodopi.

Dimitris Adamidis from the Konos olive oil mill near Alexandroupolis, said that the alter­nat­ing weather pat­tern of the area has cre­ated great dif­fi­cul­ties in their busi­ness.

We pro­duce Protected Designation of Origin olive oil from our olive trees of the Makri vari­ety, and we expect a reduc­tion of almost 50 per­cent this sea­son,” he told Olive Oil Times.

The micro­cli­mate in our area is chang­ing, with unex­pected spring­time frosts and sum­mer heat­waves that stress out our trees,” he added. Adapting to and over­com­ing these obsta­cles is the only way to go for­ward, and we apply spe­cial cul­ti­vat­ing prac­tices to help our trees cope with the trans­form­ing con­di­tions.”

Adamidis also said that, due to the hot­ter than usual weather in recent years, they had to move the start of the har­vest ear­lier in the sea­son to be able to keep their high stan­dards of pro­duc­tion.

Projections for other pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries of the coun­try, such as Fthiotida and Fokida in cen­tral Greece, and the island of Evia, which suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant losses in its pri­mary sec­tor dur­ing the sum­mer’s destruc­tive wild­fires, also indi­cate a reduced olive oil yield.

The prospects look much bet­ter in Lesbos, where olive oil pro­duc­tion is expected to increase to 10,000 tons, com­pared to 3,500 tons pre­vi­ously.

Even more, the sharp impact of the sea­son’s unpro­pi­tious cir­cum­stances on pro­duc­ers is ampli­fied by the ris­ing costs of sev­eral prod­ucts and com­modi­ties, includ­ing fuels, energy, and agri­cul­tural sup­plies.

The price of cop­per [used in elec­tri­cal wiring in mills instal­la­tions and machin­ery] alone has increased by 20 per­cent, and the work­ers are also highly paid,” pro­ducer Yiannis Korodinis said.

If the drought con­tin­ues and the prospects of the olive oil yield remain poor, many of us will not even be able to har­vest,” he added. Olive oil must get a fair price since the costs are high and we ulti­mately get no profit from har­vest­ing.”





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