` Will the 2015 Olive Harvest Be a Good One?

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Will the 2015 Olive Harvest Be a Good One?

Aug. 5, 2015
By Isabel Putinja

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With olive har­vests expected to com­mence in Europe as early as next month, recent reports have been spec­u­lat­ing on the out­come of the 2015 – 2016 olive har­vest.

Top olive pro­duc­ers Spain and Italy, and on a lesser scale other olive-pro­duc­ing coun­tries includ­ing France, Por­tu­gal and Croa­tia, were badly hit by the dis­as­trous har­vests of the 2014 – 2015 olive grow­ing sea­son. As a result, olive oil prices have soared and con­sumers are feel­ing the effects of a world­wide olive oil short­age.

Bloomberg reported that pro­duc­tion in Spain and Italy, the two biggest olive pro­duc­ing coun­tries which account for 70 per­cent of the world mar­ket, decreased by more than 50 per­cent in the 2014 – 15 sea­son, accord­ing to fig­ures pub­lished by the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC).

The Guardian has cau­tioned that a third poor con­sec­u­tive har­vest in Spain and Italy would have dis­as­trous results and push up prices even fur­ther amid fears that Spain may expe­ri­ence another poor crop because of dry and hot weather.

Mean­while, the entire province of Lecce in Apu­lia (Puglia) — Italy’s largest olive-grow­ing region with 2,769 square km (1,065 sq mi) — is so infected by the Xylella fas­tidiosa (Xf) bac­terium that it is now a con­tain­ment zone where infected trees are being removed and destroyed under strict EU mea­sures intro­duced in April. Fears that the bac­terium may spread were con­firmed last month when it was detected in plants on the French island of Cor­sica fol­low­ing another infec­tion dis­cov­ered in April in a cof­fee plant at a Paris mar­ket.

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Despite last year’s dis­as­trous crop, some Ital­ian olive pro­duc­ers are being cau­tiously opti­mistic about the upcom­ing har­vest since trees gen­er­ally pro­duce a bet­ter har­vest fol­low­ing a poor one.

Yields were low last year in Spain because of exces­sively hot weather. Fol­low­ing a hot and dry spring dur­ing the cru­cial flow­er­ing sea­son this year, the world’s top olive oil pro­ducer could suf­fer its sec­ond poor har­vest in a row.

Speak­ing to The Guardian, an olive pro­ducer from the Jaén province in south­ern Spain pre­dicted that the next crop will be bet­ter: I think that the new crop won’t be as bad as last year but prob­a­bly the olives will be smaller and have less quan­ti­ties of oil. If it rains in Sep­tem­ber and Octo­ber then we will get a bit more. It will be a dif­fer­ent pic­ture,” said Lour­des Negrillo.

It’s still early, and the next har­vest is weeks or even months away, depend­ing on the region. But there is much spec­u­la­tion and antic­i­pa­tion about the upcom­ing olive har­vest for pro­duc­ers and con­sumers alike.

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