This year Spain´s production levels have seemed very promising and even though the Young Farmers Association of Jaén (ASAJA-Jaén) set their production estimates to be one of the best first harvest months in six years, nature has thrown a few curve balls.
Many Spanish producers have been confronted with both a delayed harvest, perhaps due to climate change, and long-lasting rains that have impeded harvesting.
Lola Sagra, from Nobleza del Sur, reported that she was not willing to take a risk in reducing her quality due to some rain. This NYIOOC award-winning producer opted to hire more than her usual workers to come in and harvest quickly between rain clouds. This increased her production costs but she is delighted with her outcome.
Andalusian producers seem to agree there has been a lower overall oil yield from all olive varieties and the rain has made harvesting as well as production difficult.
Smaller numbers of farmers have had some minor setbacks with isolated hail storms and the olive fly. However, at this point, one hears mostly pride in the quality that millers have managed to achieve.
No doubt Spanish producers will pull through and offer another good production year, although estimates are still difficult to determine even at this point in the harvest season due to the late start out of the gate.
In their September report, The Ministry for Agriculture, Fishing and Alimentation (MAPA) of Spain estimated production of 1,598,951 tons, up from last year´s production by 30.7%percent.
According to the Councilor of the MAPA, Andalusia is predicted to produce 1,339,712 tons of olive oil, from 6,443,315 tons of olives. This is a 39.9 percent increase from last year’s harvest.
Jaén, the Andalusian powerhouse, has an oil forecast of 685,000 tons, an increase of 74.9 percent.
Córdoba, Seville and Granada are also major players producing 280,000, 114,198 and 142,712 tons of olive oil respectively.
The overall expected increase of olive oil is due to favorable conditions prior to harvest time and the planting of new olive trees. This year Spain had a very mild summer, allowing many olive trees to recover from previous years of severe heat.
Although most provinces report an expected increase some regions may see decreases in production, especially in the areas of Castilla y León (-46.4 percent) and Valencia (-39.3 percent).