In Tuscany, farmers master climatic challenges and strive for the highest quality


As the new harvest begins, the Tuscan olive growers take stock and make plans and forecasts for the future.

They have had an excellent harvest, both in terms of fruit quantity and product quality, which made Tuscany the most awarded Italian region in the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition 2021.

Overall, the olives suffered from a combination of lack of water and high temperatures.– Claudio Cantini, Institute for Bioeconomy of the National Research Council

The last one was an excellent season ”, Gionni Pruneti, of Frantoio Prunetisaid Olive Times. We had an exceptional winter and spring, with the right rainfall and flowering at the right time, a summer that was dry but not too hot, and in the end we achieved exceptional results: rich fruits from which we made excellent products . “

Instead, this year Chianti has had some problems with flowering, which has been delayed by late frosts, ”he added. Some plants bloomed later, even in June, and we found that varieties like Moraiolo suffered particularly from this delay. Many flowers were damaged and withered by the heat without being able to pollinate. “

See also: Harvest updates 2021

Because of these conditions, Tuscan producers and their colleagues expect lower production in the central and northern regions of Italy, which preliminary forecasts have confirmed.

Last year, a number of ideal conditions resulted in a very good harvest in our region, ”said Claudio Cantini. He heads the Santa Paolina experimental farm of the Institute for Bioeconomy of the National Research Council (IBE-CNR) in Follonica.

The high number of awards that Tuscan farmers have received at NYIOOC is the result of the favorable weather conditions coupled with the almost complete absence of pests such as the olive fruit fly, ”he added. The fruit ripening went smoothly, the olives came into the mill healthy and therefore the quality was very high, with top performance. “

According to Cantini, the presence of the olive fruit fly was again low this year. Still, the lack of rain was a significant problem, particularly along the coast that followed the production trend in central Italy.

We have to keep in mind that in the Grosseto area, for example, a little more than 20 millimeters of rain fell from January to August, ”he said. Overall, the olives suffered from a combination of drought and high temperatures, which in some areas significantly exceeded 35 ° C and approached 40 ° C. As a reaction to this pollution, there was a significant loss of fruit, especially in the non-irrigated orchards. “

In some areas, particularly on the coast, farmers have had problems with poor fruit growth, which has resulted in the core predominating over the pulp, Cantini said.

This could be a year of ups and downs, ”he added. In small areas with a favorable microclimate, we could still find excellent productions, especially where there was some rain in the summer. “

Giulio Betti, an IBE-CNR meteorologist, told Olive Oil Times that Current weather trends point to average or slightly higher seasonal temperatures in Tuscany for the next two months. We expect an average amount of rainfall in October, while the amount of rain in November could decrease slightly. “

Olive groves in Val d’Orcia (Ylenia Granitto)

The summer of 2021 in Italy was the sixth warmest since 1800, with a national anomaly compared to climatology from 1981 to 2010 of +1.55 ° C, wrote Betti in a tweet.

Over the past 15 to 20 years, heat waves have increased in intensity, duration and frequency across Italy, ”he said. They affect the crops and the fact is that they increase and become more intense. “

However, the latest BBC report says that even if we manage to contain global warming by 1.5 ° C, the effects of our actions so far will continue for years, ”added Betti.

In addition, the drought lasted for months across Italy, which means it is not that easy to get out of, ”he continued. We need a set of organized disruptions that are not ruinous local storms causing damage, but widespread and widespread rainfall that is slowly easing the drought in agriculture while reducing the risk of fire and groundwater supplies as well Refill reservoirs that are used for irrigation. “

After a long dry period in mid-September, some rain fell first in southern Italy and then in the central and northern areas of the country at the end of the month. However, the first significant rainfall on the entire peninsula did not fall until the beginning of October.

While some studies show a certain tendency towards intensification of precipitation in amount and duration, we have to point out that this type of forecast is complex in the medium and long term, ”said Betti.

On the other hand, it is becoming clear that we will increasingly switch between years with a lot of precipitation and years with extremely little precipitation, ”he added. This succession of very dry and very rainy periods is certainly one of the factors that make it difficult for olive growers to plan their agricultural activities every year. “

New olive trees have recently been planted on the Pruneti organic farm which require watering in their early years, a common practice.

The great heat of summer caused water stress in some plants, ”said Pruneti. On the other hand, it naturally protected them from the olive fruit fly, whose activity was immediately blocked in July. “

In our region, especially in the Maremma, there was a long period of drought, but it was these violent heat waves that worried us farmers, as at some moments we reached 38 ° C to 40 ° C and at such temperatures the olive tree leaves the fruit fall to defend themselves, ”he added.

These are certainly problems that we need to learn to deal with from an agronomic point of view, ”concluded Pruneti. At this rate, it sounds like a compulsory way to predispose at least one emergency irrigation system. “


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