Slovenian olive growers produced this year’s first oil even before the official start of olive harvesting on September 30 with the Župan’s Olive Olive of Trust event.
The first oil was produced on September 18 at the Babić oil mill in Babić pri Koper, the largest town in Slovenian Istria, where 90 percent of Slovenian olives are grown on approximately 2,000 hectares.
Olive grower Daniel Stojkovič Kukulin did not hide his satisfaction with the quality of his first oils of the season.
See also:Harvest 2022 Updates
“There are as many as 1340 milligrams of polyphenols in one liter. A true elixir,” said Stojkovič. He was the first in Slovenia to start harvesting.
Other Slovenian olive growers were also interested in an earlier harvest. Among them are Vanja Dujc, Franc Morgan and Boris Jenko, some of the most successful domestic producers.
Many have announced that they will start harvesting olives next week. They are satisfied with the quality of the fruit, and the harvest is better than expected considering the long summer drought, above-average temperatures and the mysterious decline of the fruits in July.
In addition to the quality, the authorities at the Koper Olive-growing Institute confirmed that the quality of the first oils they analyzed was also very high.
So far, the oils have a very high content of polyphenols. This means that bitter and spicy oils are rich in antioxidants and likely to retain their quality for a longer period of time. Previously, researchers have shown that the number of polyphenols in olive oils is higher after dry summers.
In addition, the drought and high temperatures did not favor the development of diseases such as peacock eye or pests such as the olive fly.
Bacterial blight on olives, which has caused enormous damage in neighboring Italy in recent years, was also not observed.
“The proportion of fruit damaged by olive fly attacks is significantly lower than in 2021,” said Milena Bučar Miklavčić, head of the mentioned laboratory.
She compared this year’s olive growing season to 2003, which was also dry but yielded a record number of olives. The yield in the main growing areas is very high. The oils are spicy, bitter and fruity.
“We can enjoy aromas reminiscent of almonds, radicchio, artichokes, green tomatoes, olive leaves and various types of fruit,” said Bučar Miklavčić.
The Minister of Agriculture, Irena Šinko, also expressed her satisfaction with this year’s harvest. Taking part in the traditional event organized by the Municipality of Izola and the Association of Olive Growers of Slovenian Istra, she wished the growers a successful season and emphasized the importance of olive growing in Slovenia.
She added that olive growing is a promising economic industry, as evidenced by the increase in the number of olive growers and plantations in the last few years. She also touched on the drought that caused considerable damage this summer.
“Just like last year, the Protection and Rescue Administration of the Republic of Slovenia granted state aid to farms that suffered crop damage due to the drought in 2022,” she said. “Olive growers will also have the right to this assistance. Damage reports were completed this month.”
Šinko also presented the olive growers with Slovenia’s national strategic plan for the implementation of the latest iteration of the common agricultural policy, which comes into effect in January 2023 and lasts until 2027.
The national strategic plan of Slovenia includes investments in production and marketing and the promotion of cooperative measures. The CAP also focuses on mitigating the impacts of climate change and introduced agri-climate payments for farmers affected by extreme weather events.
Šinko added that this year there were changes in the use of olive pomace as fertilizer:
“This means that, under certain conditions, olive growers will be able to use olive pomace as fertilizer on agricultural land,” she said. “Olive mills will have to ensure adequate storage of olive pomace.”
In total, olive trees grow on 2,500 hectares in Slovenia. The average annual yield is around 1,940 tons of fruit, of which growers produce 900 tons of oil. However, this is not enough for domestic demand, so the country imports more than 2,000 tons of olive oil annually.