While in the UK we may be enjoying summer spells of 30+ degrees, global warming is having an effect on olive oil production. Threats of price rises due to very dry conditions resulting in a lower yield are grabbing headline news.
Unlike me, olive trees thrive under stress, and the lack of water is certainly causing some stress. This can create interesting nuances in the taste of the oil as when olive trees are under pressure they often direct their energy into the fruit rather than the leaves.
Last year we wrote how Marina Colonna had not had enough rain to fill her irrigation ponds which she would normally use to water the trees over the hottest months. While this used to be a phenomenon it is now the norm.
In July in Tuscany Matteo Frescobaldi wrote to us with an agricultural update. Here, temperatures have hovered around 40 degrees for months and this period of prolonged heat saw a lesser amount of fruit than expected appear. The flowering in May had been so extraordinary, if all the flowers had turned to fruit, the tree would have been overwhelmed with fruit and it is likely that they would not have developed the complex flavours that they normally do. We have been assured that, with Frescobaldi’s 300 hectares of olive trees at differing altitudes, and the expertise of their agricultural staff, we should not worry too much about quantity this year.
Over in Spain, Fadrique from Marques de Valdueza, comments how he is drip irrigating the trees in order not to run out of water. While they always try to control the water to allow the fruit to develop but still stress on the trees, he says that this year the stress has been taken to new levels. While it is likely that this year’s yield will be lower than previous years, there is hope this this will be compensated by intense aroma and complex flavour.
In Greece, Cristina from Lia writes about the huge increase in production costs that they are seeing.. From the cost of petrol for tractors to the cost of fertilizers, the challenges don't stop there. However, the trees are looking good (despite the increase in flies due to the humidity) and they are looking forward to the harvest in October.