`Some Relief for Dry Andalusian Olives


Some Relief for Dry Andalusian Olives

Oct. 31, 2011
By Julie Butler

Recent News

After 52 days of dry skies and above-aver­age heat, Andalusia’s wrinkly olives finally relieved their thirst last week.

But wel­come though it was, the rain came too late to avoid some losses in non-irri­gated areas of the region, sec­re­tary of the Andalu­sian branch of agrar­ian orga­ni­za­tion COAG, Eduardo López, told Europa Press.

Nor­mally a kilo of olives has an oil con­tent of 23 per­cent but now it’s going to be about 17 – 18 per­cent, though that might improve with this rain,” he said. Olive trees are drought resilient but the olives are in their oil pro­duc­tion phase — lipo­ge­n­e­sis — which is affected by tem­per­a­ture and humid­ity.

The Diario Jaen reported that the aver­age of 48 liters/m2 that quenched Jaen´s 60 mil­lion olive trees — now bear­ing about 50kg of olives each — was less than desired, but timely.

The fruit had been look­ing shriv­elled and needed the rain sooner rather than later. Rain in the mid­dle of Novem­ber isn’t as impor­tant for the har­vest as it is in Sep­tem­ber and early Octo­ber,” the news­pa­per reported.


Rain-fed plan­ta­tions form 60 per cent — 306,000 hectares — of the sec­tor in Jaén, which fore­cast­ers say can expect more wet weather this week.

Ear­lier in Octo­ber, the Andalu­sian gov­ern­ment released esti­mates that total regional olive oil pro­duc­tion this sea­son would equal 1.13 mil­lion tons — up 0.6 per­cent on the pre­vi­ous — of which Jaén would sup­ply 580,000 tons. But that was con­di­tional on opti­mal weather.

Mean­while, this week one of the most cru­cial col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments — not just for Jaén but the whole of Spain — is due to be thrashed out. Cov­er­ing the employ­ment of the esti­mated 107,000 labor­ers that will work in Jaén’s olive plan­ta­tions and mills this har­vest, it will gov­ern not only what they earn but serve as a ref­er­ence nation­wide, says Ideal.es.

The immi­nent olive har­vest is the time of great­est demand for labor over the short­est period and is this year expected to see about €340 mil­lion ($481m) pass from the con­trac­tors to labor­ers in just over two months.

This year the pick­ers are under pres­sure to accept 5 per­cent less than the €58.05 ($82.17) they earned last year for each day — gen­er­ally 6.5 hours’ work with­out stop. Pro­duc­ers say that since 2009, the prices paid for their olive oil have ranged from 20 – 25 per­cent below what they need to break even so they can’t pay the pick­ers more.

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