Rainfall Will Dictate the Upcoming Harvest in Croatia

Rain or the lack thereof will decide how the olive growing season will go in Croatia, and whether oil prices will rise.

Vito Prtenjača
Sep. 6, 2022
By Nedjeljko Jusup
Vito Prtenjača

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The rain will decide what the olive grow­ing sea­son will be like in Croatia and whether olive oil prices will rise.

Rain at least one month before the har­vest will save the remain­ing fruits. However, it is already too late in some loca­tions where olives have fallen from branches due to the long-term drought.

We are receiv­ing reports that the olives have shriv­eled due to the long-term drought, and where there is not enough soil to retain mois­ture, they have already started to fall off.- Lodran Ljubenkov, pres­i­dent, Cooperative Association of Dalmatia

The olives turned black and fell,” said Vito Prtenjača, an olive grower from Polača in north­ern Dalmatia. Due to the drought, the pits did not become woody, which is a sign that the accu­mu­la­tion of oil has not even started.”

The first imped­i­ment to this year’s har­vest phase came dur­ing flow­er­ing and fer­til­iza­tion when extremely high tem­per­a­tures occurred.

See Also:2022 Harvest Updates

There has been no heavy rain­fall since February in the vast major­ity of Croatia’s olive-grow­ing areas, which stretch along the Adriatic Sea from Savudrija in Istria to Prevlaka in the extreme south of Dalmatia. There was even less pre­cip­i­ta­tion on the coastal islands.

The droughts are such that it is a mir­a­cle how the olive trees man­age to sur­vive,” said Ivo Lučić, an olive grower from Hvar.

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The island, which boasts 250,000 olive trees, has received 113.3 liters of rain per square meter. Most of this fell mainly in the win­ter and early spring.

Rain was also absent for the Feast of the Assumption, a Christian hol­i­day on August 15. In pre­vi­ous years, the date has usu­ally marked the end of the sum­mer heat and her­alded the arrival of autumn.

The drought con­tin­ues. The fruits are falling off,” com­plain the olive grow­ers. It is the most dif­fi­cult for those whose olive groves are on poor, skele­tal soils, espe­cially those with­out irri­ga­tion.

Lodran Ljubenkov, pres­i­dent of the Cooperative Association of Dalmatia, con­firmed that the drought was caus­ing plenty of prob­lems for local grow­ers.

We are receiv­ing reports that the olives have shriv­eled due to the long-term drought, and where there is not enough soil to retain mois­ture, they have already started to fall off,” he said. Where there is soil in the olive groves, those trees will lose their fruit in another two weeks.”

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Fruits dry up and fall off (Photo: Marijan Tomac)

As a result, olive grow­ers are look­ing impa­tiently at the sky. If it rains in the next few weeks, the fruits will recover.

Additionally, there have been no sig­nif­i­cant reports of dis­eases or pests, so the oil qual­ity may be above aver­age.

See Also:Croatian Olive Grower Innovates to Overcome Drought, Pests

Producers also expect olive oil prices to rise, par­tially due to the dra­matic increase in the costs of pro­tec­tive agents, fer­til­iz­ers, fuel and pack­ag­ing. In addi­tion, the price of olive milling is also expected to increase.

The price of elec­tric­ity for proces­sors has increased up to 500 per­cent in the mean­time,” said Željko Vrsaljko, the owner of an oil mill in Nadin.

Until now, extra vir­gin olive oil has been sold in Croatia for HRK 100 (€13.30) to HRK 150 (€19.95) per liter.

According to many, the price will go up at least 30 to 50 per­cent. The award-win­ning olive grower Ivica Vlatković also thinks olive oil prices will rise but added the exact increase will depend on sup­ply and demand.

On the olive oil mar­ket, there are now oils that reach prices of up to HRK 1,000 (€133) per liter,” he said. As a rule, such oils are of top qual­ity in small bot­tles of 1,000 mil­li­liters packed in excel­lent pack­ag­ing and served to peo­ple who appre­ci­ate qual­ity oils and are ready to pay for them.”

You also have oils on the mar­ket pack­aged in plas­tic bot­tles that cost HRK 80 (€10.65) per liter, and they will find buy­ers,” Vlatković added. Accordingly, prices have been vari­able until now and will be from now on.”

It is crit­i­cal for olive farm­ers that rain comes as soon as pos­si­ble. If so, the fruits will recover and fill with oil in a few months, bring­ing relief to the major­ity of Croatian olive grow­ers.

If this hap­pens, 2022 will have been a solid olive grow­ing sea­son. Olive groves cover about 20,000 hectares in Croatia, yield­ing approx­i­mately 29,000 tons of olives. From these, pro­duc­ers can squeeze about 3.75 mil­lion liters of olive oil.

This is still not enough to sat­isfy domes­tic needs for olive oil, but, as they say in Dalmatia, some­thing is bet­ter than noth­ing.”


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