Olive trees may appear sturdy, but climate and healthy trees are vital for a successful harvest. The recent rain we’ve been having after a very long period of dry weather will hopefully save this year’s olive crops here in the south of France. Thankfully olive farmers in Provence did not suffer as much this year from the dreaded olive fly disease as
Olive Oil Times reported two years ago.
The local and regional newspapers were full of gloom earlier this month. Headlines such as Droughts threaten Olive Production and “Exceptional Bad Weather will result in Poor Harvest” are far from inspiring, but optimists say that the change in weather conditions and a late harvest in mid- November might still save this year’s crops.
You can understand the frustration of olive growers. They’ve been carefully managing their groves for the last six to seven months,( the growth and development period) pruned the trees, cleaned and mowed the inter- rows but in the end, the weather can ruin so much. They all want their fruit to be the best quality, certainly not bruised or damaged because the flesh of fruit will determine the quality of the oil, not the skin. Olive trees like the fertile grounds in Provence but they thrive so much better producing more olives with a certain amount of rain. If the weather is too dry, the olive fruit doesn’t grow, and some olives will even dry up on the trees.
What the other ongoing danger olive growers everywhere have to face is the olive fly, one of the most dangerous insect pests. The olive fly is about the same size as an ant but can hit and devastate whole olive orchards. This is what happened in the south of France in 2014, a tough year for many owners. The female fly lays its eggs inside the fruit as it develops, totally invisible on the outside. Weather conditions were slightly different that year; temperatures were high in the spring, and the summer was relatively cool. No one wants fly damaged olives and olive oil. L Association Française de l'Olive (AFIDOL)the interprofessional association for olive oil in France devotes considerable time through practical sessions and workshops informing growers and producers on the best methods to deal with the bug.
Granted it's still early but we are all looking forward to a good healthy 2016 harvest.
|Gilles and Brigitte Stalanq from Provence anxiously checking their olives|