Smallest cropping year attributed to dry weather and other major climate events

QOC AGM CEO REPORT, Toowoomba, Queensland

Queensland Olive Growers experienced a fairly “dismal season” in terms of production with comparison to 2017 olive harvest which was highlighted as the most successful season the Industry has ever faced.

Late, to no, season-opening rains, below-average to lowest on average rainfall and above average temperatures during the growing season have been coupled with damaging frost to reduce harvest volumes.  A commercial producer in Victoria had reported a 30% crop loss due to frost issues alone.

From one extreme to another, some of the largest producers in Queensland during 2017 had crop loads of around 250T and in 2018 had impacts of at least a 50% reduction.  This story seemed to be fairly consistent except many producers also experienced nil production in 2018.

The total Queensland Harvest in 2018 was fairly negligible in comparison to the total Australian harvest and is estimated to be well under 5% at around 975T.

The success of the 2017 harvest has at least helped to lower the blow in production by giving producers some leeway with the gap in lost oil & olives during this year.

It is anticipated for most producers in Queensland that 2019 is set to be a bumper harvest but some reports of the wild weather, tornadoes and hail have already had an impact with lower production forecasts.  So the situation for some producers is not so great for 2019 but for the majority so far seems to be positive.

Nationally, the harvest in 2018 was considerably down in production, fruit size was small due to dry weather and fruit was relatively small and dry posing problems for extraction.  Yields seemed to average 12% in many of the southern states and higher usage of coadjuvants did improve yields to around 18%.

International prices of Olive Oil seem to indicate a recovery period.  So the current outlook is fairly positive for 2019.

The current El Nino period  brings increased warmer temperatures in the second half of the year during spring and summer months increasing evaporative demand, increased frost risks, increased fire danger in South East Australia & decreased alpine snow depths.   According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology seven out of eight climate models suggests seas surface temperatures will remain above El nino thresholds until at least March 2019. We still need to remain vigilant.


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