Unusual Spring Heat Brings Early Problems for Greek Farms

A heatwave during the critical flowering stage was enough to raise concerns among growers for their expected yields.
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Jun. 5, 2020 09:35 UTC

High tem­per­a­tures reach­ing 40°C (104°F) in some areas of Greece alarmed olive farm­ers who fear that the adverse weather could affect blos­som­ing and reduce the pro­duc­tiv­ity of their trees in the upcom­ing har­vest­ing sea­son.

Experts said the phe­nom­e­non mainly affected oil-pro­duc­ing vari­eties by inter­rupt­ing the progress of their flow­er­ing.

The unprece­dented warm weather this time of the year that lasted for four days in our area took its toll on the olive trees, with results show­ing after around ten days,” Giorgos Korinnis, an agri­cul­tur­ist work­ing in the Lakonia region of the Peloponnese, told Olive Oil Times.

With such tem­per­a­tures so early in the sea­son, the olive trees go into a ther­mal shock from which they can­not recover,” Korinnis said. All the juices of the tree stay in the trunk to avoid with­er­ing and the blos­soms do not get any nutri­ents and pol­li­na­tion is incom­plete.”

This hap­pened to more than half of the olive trees in our area, and mostly to olive vari­eties used to make olive oil. Watering can­not reverse the dam­age.”

In Aetolia-Acarnania of cen­tral-west Greece, another olive oil-pro­duc­ing ter­ri­tory hit by the high tem­per­a­tures, agri­cul­tur­ist Alexandros Samaras described sim­i­lar ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the heat­wave.

The unusu­ally warm weather affected almost 40 per­cent of the olive trees around the lake Trichonida, and espe­cially the non-irri­gated,” Samaras told us.“The dam­age is more pro­found on oil-pro­duc­ing vari­eties, affect­ing their blos­som­ing and pol­li­na­tion process,” he said.

The sea­son was look­ing good so far, but those olive trees harmed by the heat can­not return to their pre­vi­ous con­di­tion. Edible olives, on the other hand, were not sig­nif­i­cantly harmed and any pos­si­ble loss in olive dru­pes due to lim­ited pol­li­na­tion will be com­pen­sated by larger sizes of the remain­ing dru­pes.”

Apart from pock­ets in west­ern and south­ern con­ti­nen­tal Greece, the prob­lem has also occurred spo­rad­i­cally in olive oil-mak­ing ter­ri­to­ries near Heraklion and Sitia in Crete.

Spurred by the spring heat­wave, unrest has returned in the sec­tor with farm­ers in Messinia tak­ing to the streets demand­ing com­pen­sa­tion and protest­ing about the per­sist­ing low pro­ducer prices of olive oil and the com­pound­ing prob­lems with other agri­cul­tural prod­ucts.

Farmers have received no state aid through­out the quar­an­tine period,” said grower Spyros Nikolopoulos.

We import pota­toes and we dis­card domes­tic pro­duc­tion. Olive oil pro­duc­ers on the other hand face seri­ous finan­cial prob­lems with the cur­rent prices of olive oil and ELGA [the Greek orga­ni­za­tion of agri­cul­tural insur­ances] pro­vides no redress for the dam­age after the heat. We require that this anachro­nis­tic reg­u­la­tion is changed.”


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