Harvest Unfolds with Mixed Results in Greece

A modest yield is expected in most of the producing regions of the country, with many producers pinning their hopes on quality.

Dec. 16, 2021
By Costas Vasilopoulos

Recent News

Olives har­vest­ing is in full swing in Greece, with the out­come so far ver­i­fy­ing the ini­tial pro­jec­tions of a reduced national olive oil yield, slightly exceed­ing 200,000 tons.

As the major­ity of pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries have been shaken by the erratic weather of last spring and sum­mer, the infor­ma­tion pro­vided by pro­duc­ers and mill own­ers shows that the har­vest has become depen­dent on the weather con­di­tions as never before in recent years.

The main rea­son for the reduced crop is the reduced blos­som­ing of the olive trees which were impacted by the unnat­u­rally warm weather of last spring.- Dimitris Soulakis, Lesbos mill owner

On Crete, where a mid-range pro­duc­tion of around 70,000 tons is expected, pro­duc­ers have come to terms with the fact that the ele­ments have the upper hand this sea­son.

See Also:2021 Harvest Updates

A mod­er­ate har­vest­ing sea­son is ahead for the whole island,” the own­ers of the Kydonakis Bros olive oil mill, located south of Heraklion, told Olive Oil Times. The dis­crep­an­cies in olive oil pro­duc­tion are a con­se­quence of the bizarre weather pat­tern of the pre­vi­ous months, which dis­or­ga­nized the olive trees.”

Producers who grow their trees at a rel­a­tively high alti­tude can get sub­stan­tial quan­ti­ties of olive oil,” they added. In the low­lands, the vol­ume of olive oil is reduced and we advise the pro­duc­ers to post­pone har­vest­ing until the olives are ripe enough for a good yield.”

On the other hand, they noted that the qual­ity of the season’s fresh olive oils is high.

In our area, olive oil qual­ity is bet­ter than ever, and we have seen many olive oils with acidi­ties rang­ing from 0.1 to 0.2,” the mill own­ers said.

Having also in mind that a mediocre sea­son is usu­ally fol­lowed by a pros­per­ous one, all signs show that we are head­ing toward a ven­tema’ [boun­teous har­vest] next year, pro­vided that no sur­prises occur on the way,” they added.

However, the qual­ity pro­duc­ers south of Heraklion reap is not evi­dent in other parts of the island. Apart from the decrease in the olive oil quan­tity, the dry weather con­di­tions also took their toll on the high-qual­ity cal­iber of Cretan olive oil.

Some fresh olive oils are less aro­matic this sea­son,” Nikos Michelakis, the sci­en­tific advi­sor of the asso­ci­a­tion of the olive oil-mak­ing munic­i­pal­i­ties of Crete (SEDIK), told local media in Chania.

This is due to the pro­longed sum­mer drought that dried out many of the olive fruits, which then could not bounce back. So the olive oils pro­duced are not as fine as expected.”

Olive trees in other areas of the coun­try have endured the threat­en­ing unsea­son­able weather, with local pro­duc­ers ahead of a sat­is­fy­ing har­vest.

Twenty days ago we pro­duced early fresh olive oils with yields of six to one, while a few days ago we reached 4.8 to one, even bet­ter,” said Spyros Velmahos, a pro­ducer from Petalidi in Messinia. This means that from a sack of olives we got 10.6 kilo­grams of olive oil. Problems occurred only in areas where the heat­wave hit the trees at a bad time, caus­ing the oil con­tent [of the olive fruits] to be reduced.”

Once again, the pat­tern is not ubiq­ui­tous; other pro­duc­ers in the region told Olive Oil Times that the season’s poten­tial is lim­ited mostly due to the reduced fruition of the olive trees.

See Also:Heavy Downpours Dampen Harvest Outlook in Greece

If you pass out­side the oil mills these days, there are only a few sacks of olives wait­ing to be milled,” they said. There should be many more, but the olive trees were only half-loaded with olives and the sea­son is short. Hopefully, the next one will be bet­ter.”

On the island of Lesbos, olive oil pro­duc­tion is expected to fare lower than the 10,000 tons ini­tially expected, instead, reach­ing around 6,000 tons, accord­ing to the local office of agri­cul­ture and vet­eri­nary ser­vices. As a result, local pro­duc­ers rely more on qual­ity than quan­tity this sea­son.

We expect pre­mium qual­ity,” mill owner Dimitris Soulakis told Olive Oil Times. However, the vol­ume of the olive oil pro­duced on the island is less than usual. The har­vest here used to begin in November and some­times lasted until April, but now it is going to end much sooner.”

The over­all olive oil pro­duc­tion will by no means be even close to the 10,000 or 12,000 tons the island makes in good times,” he added. The main rea­son for the reduced crop is the reduced blos­som­ing of the olive trees which were impacted by the unnat­u­rally warm weather of last spring.”

In north­ern Greece, most olive oil-pro­duc­ing regions appear highly affected by unfa­vor­able weather con­di­tions, with pro­duc­ers speak­ing of a cat­a­strophic sea­son.

We were expect­ing 20 per­cent of our usual pro­duc­tion, but we finally got noth­ing,” said Dimosthenis Hatzinikolaou, head of the agri­cul­tural olive oil asso­ci­a­tion of Makri, in the Evros region.

Many pro­duc­ers will have to buy olive oil for domes­tic use,” he added. The dam­age was caused by the lack of fruition, the hail and the frost. Our olive oil mill oper­ates only two days a week and the har­vest has already been com­pleted.”

A sim­i­lar pat­tern exists in other pro­duc­ing areas of north­ern Greece, includ­ing Kavala and the island of Thasos, where olive oil pro­duc­tion is halved this sea­son com­pared to pre­vi­ous crop years.

Meanwhile, the reduced quan­tity of olive oil has resulted in increased pro­duc­ers’ prices; how­ever, high prices alone are not a sign of a suc­cess­ful sea­son, accord­ing to some.

Prices are very good,” said mill owner Yorgos Roundos from Halkidiki. We hear about pro­duc­ers sell­ing 15 kilo­grams of olive oil for €75 to €80. However, what can you do with qual­ity if there is no quan­tity?”

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