Slovenian Producers Expect Low Harvest Due to Extreme Weather, Off-Year

With the harvest getting underway in Slovenia, expectations differ from producer to producer, but few are optimistic.
Harvest in Slovenia (Photo: Ronkaldo)
By Nedjeljko Jusup
Oct. 26, 2023 13:22 UTC

The olive har­vest is about to begin in Primorska, the east­ern Slovenian region stretch­ing from the foot of the Julian Alps to the Adriatic Sea.

Expectations dif­fer from pro­ducer to pro­ducer, but none are very opti­mistic. The fruits are healthy, but there are sig­nif­i­cantly fewer,” Martin Adamič, the man­ager of Ekološka Kmetija Ronkaldo, told Olive Oil Times.

Last year’s extreme drought and large har­vest exhausted the olive trees, so they were not able to grow new branches.- Miran Adamič, man­ager, Ekološka Kmetija Ronkaldo

As a result, he antic­i­pates a high-qual­ity har­vest from his grove com­pris­ing 800 trees, mostly the local Istrian Bjelica vari­ety. Last year, we got 14 tons of extra vir­gin olive oil, and we will see how it will be this year,” he said.

I would­n’t have any­thing against a repeat of last year’s har­vest and fruit qual­ity,” added Miran Adamič, Martin’s father.

See Also:2023 Harvest Updates

Despite the pro­longed drought, last year’s har­vest was quite good due to abun­dant rain at the end of September, which helped the olives recover. There were no dis­eases or pests, so we har­vested beau­ti­ful, flaw­less olives,” Martin Adamič said.

According to the International Olive Council, Slovenia pro­duced 700 tons of olive oil in the 2022/23 crop year, slightly exceed­ing the five-year aver­age of 620 tons.

Once again, the father and son team is prepar­ing for an early har­vest, one of their secrets for pro­duc­ing award-win­ning extra vir­gin olive oil.

An early har­vest and the short­est pos­si­ble time from pick­ing to milling are the first steps,” Adamič said. We picked our Istrian bjel­ica in mid-October and milled them the same day at the Santomas mill in Šmarje. We stored the oil prop­erly, trans­ferred it into appro­pri­ate glass bot­tles on time, and that’s it.”

Unlike the pre­vi­ous crop year, Adamič said there was plenty of rain, hail and even some win­ter snow in the north­ern­most parts of Primorska. However, this brought ben­e­fits and draw­backs.

Heavy rains dur­ing the flow­er­ing and fer­til­iza­tion caused sig­nif­i­cant dam­age,” Adamič said. There are sig­nif­i­cantly fewer fruits. Instead of 14 tons of oil from last year’s har­vest, we hope to get at least half from the next one. So, about seven tons.”

Most of the other olive groves in Slovenia will fare even worse. However, esti­mat­ing what this year’s crop will be is gen­er­ally tricky. According to Maja Podgornik, an olive-grow­ing research asso­ciate at the Institute for Social Studies in Koper, the largest city in Primorska, each loca­tion has its micro­cli­mate, and this year’s extreme weather con­di­tions did not affect the entire region.

On some trees, the crop is nor­mal, and on oth­ers, right next to them, there is noth­ing,” said Teja Hladnik, an olive-grow­ing spe­cial­ist at the Koper Agricultural Advisory Service.

In July, brown­ing and drop­ping of fruits occurred in some loca­tions due to dam­age from pests and other envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors linked to the pro­longed drought that ended last year.

The loss is up to 80 per­cent,” said Jadran Jakončič, who has groves in Primorski Brdi.

Igor Novak has plan­ta­tions in Škofija and Ankaran and said that in some places, there was no flow­er­ing or fer­til­iza­tion at all.

However, where it was lush, the fruits began to fall off en masse,” he said. Trees with 30 kilo­grams of olives ear­lier in the year now have only a few olives.”

Podgornik said nature has not been kind to olive trees in the last three years. They are faced with extreme events. In 2021, there was a severe spring frost, then last year’s drought, the most severe in the last 500 years,” she noted. Meanwhile, this July, Slovenia expe­ri­enced record-high tem­per­a­tures.

The rea­sons for this year’s poor har­vest are unknown, so olive grow­ers can only spec­u­late about the role of dis­ease or pests.

However, Vanja Dujc, an olive grower, said the answer may be straight­for­ward. The olives sim­ply wanted to rest after last year’s strong har­vest, just as we humans like to rest,” he said, refer­ring to the nat­ural alter­nate bear­ing cycle of the olive tree.

Miran Adamič agrees. Last year’s extreme drought and large har­vest exhausted the olive trees, so they were not able to grow new branches, and that is the rea­son for the lower yield this year,” he said


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