Portugal’s Transition to Modern Farming Yields Another Record Harvest

Portugal will produce 150,000 tons of olive oil in the 2021-22 crop year. Favorable weather and the sector’s continuing modernization were attributed to the bumper harvest.

Alentejo, Portugal
Nov. 3, 2021
By Ephantus Mukundi
Alentejo, Portugal

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Olive oil pro­duc­ers in Portugal are expect­ing record-break­ing pro­duc­tion,” with ini­tial esti­mates fore­cast­ing a yield of 150,000 tons in the 2021/22 crop year.

The antic­i­pated pro­duc­tion is the result of many groves enter­ing an on-year in the olive’s nat­ural alter­nate bear­ing cycle and a com­bi­na­tion of the sector’s growth, the appli­ca­tion of pre­ci­sion tech­nol­ogy and the good soil and cli­mate con­di­tions this year,” said Gonçalo Almeida Simões, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Alentejo Olive Oil Association (Olivum).

See Also: 2021 Harvest Updates

According to Simões, Portugal’s olive pro­duc­tion sec­tor is at the top of the rank­ing in terms of envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity, result­ing from the reduced appli­ca­tion of phy­tophar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, reduced use of water and appro­pri­ate car­bon cap­ture.

Additionally, the coun­try takes pride in its abil­ity to pro­duce high-qual­ity olive oil, with 95 per­cent of this year’s yield meet­ing the require­ments of vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oil, which Simões claimed is higher than any other major olive oil-pro­duc­ing nation.

He attrib­uted Portugal’s con­sis­tently high-qual­ity and steadily increas­ing olive oil yields to the rapid mod­ern­iza­tion of the sec­tor. Super-high-den­sity olive groves are respon­si­ble for 80 per­cent of national olive oil pro­duc­tion,” he added.

The 2021/22 crop year marks the sev­enth con­sec­u­tive on-year (dat­ing back to the 2009/10 crop year) in which Portuguese pro­duc­tion broke records.

At the heart of this push for mod­ern­iza­tion is Alentejo. The south­ern Portuguese region accounts for one-fourth of Portugal’s land­mass and was respon­si­ble for 85 per­cent of this year’s har­vest.

See Also: Portuguese Producers Continue to Demonstrate Quality at World Competition

A 2020 study con­ducted by Consulai and Juan Vilar Strategic Consultants showed that Portugal could be the third-largest pro­ducer of olive oil in the world by 2030. As of the 2020/21 crop year, Portugal is the eighth largest.

According to the study, Portugal’s abil­ity to increase its olive oil pro­duc­tion is dri­ven by the country’s invest­ment in tech­nol­ogy and high-den­sity olive groves, where olive grow­ers have changed from tra­di­tional vari­eties to more effi­cient cul­ti­vars.

While tra­di­tional olive groves nor­mally have about 250 trees per hectare, high-den­sity groves can accom­mo­date up to 1,000 trees. On aver­age, the tra­di­tional grove in Alentejo pro­duces 7.5 tons; how­ever, super-high-den­sity groves yield 20 to 29 tons per hectare.

According to fore­casts, as more farm­ers con­vert from tra­di­tional to inten­sive cul­ti­va­tion, Portugal’s olive oil pro­duc­tion will con­tinue to grow.





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