ATHENS – Renowned for its quality – one brand just won the award for the world’s best, and the next three spots – Greece’s “green gold,” extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) crop could face a downturn because the winter has been too warm so far.
Temperatures have regularly hovered around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) which isn’t favorable to the crop and Olive Oil Times said that during an otherwise bounty and an expected yield of 300,000 tons, the weather is bringing worry.
“The harvest has been delayed due to the weather conditions and the lack of workers,” said Yiorgos Kokkinos, a producer from Messenia in southern Peloponnese, one of the regions best known for its olive oil and olives.
“However, the weather has not cooled off yet, and the existing high humidity helps the gloeosporium and the fruit fly thrive,” Kokkinos added.
“All these have an impact on the quality of the olive oils, with the acidity levels ranging from 0.8 to 1 in the last few days. I see that high-quality olive oils are reducing, something that will eventually bring a rise in prices.”
That was in reference as well to the insect proliferating in some areas of the country during the summer that led to crop-dusting operations, especially in parts of Crete and the Peloponnese on the mainland, the site said earlier.
Hopes by Greek olive oil producers for a big crop and prices passing 4.50 euros ($4.83) per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the extra virgin quality were being jolted by the threat of the olive fruit fly.
In the region of Ilia in western Peloponnese, the fly has been detected primarily in coastal producing areas and small olive groves, according to the local department of agriculture, the report added.
That was believed because of a combination of temperature and humidity prevailing in the area and brought a warning to producers to take measures to protect their expected bounty.
Greece exports nearly $39 million worth of olive oil, ranking it third in the world, but most of that goes to Italy, which re-brands it as Italian and Greek producers don’t market their own brands worldwide aggressively.
Producers across the country are accustomed to colder weather this time of the year, the site said, because it keeps humidity levels low and prevents olive pests from emerging to wreak havoc.
On Crete, where the harvest is halfway through, the higher-than-usual temperatures have also spread anxiety among olive oil producers.
“The fact that it is hot and it doesn’t rain is bad,” said Vagelis Protogerakis, the head of the producers association of Heraklion. “The fruit fly is present and causes some damage. I hope that the weather will change so that we have no further problems.”