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A study on the effects of climate change on olive production, has won the 5th International Castillo de Canena ‘Luis Vañó’

Prize for Research Related to the Olive Oil Industry The competition – which aims to promote scientific and technological knowledge about extra virgin olive oil, and includes a €6,000 prize, an official plaque, and the publication of the study – is organised by the company Castillo de Canena with the support of the University of Jaén and the American university UC Davis

20/02/2018.-A study called ‘An approach to global warming effects on flowering and fruit set of olive tres growing under field conditions’ on the effects of climate change on the floweringand growing of olive trees, won the International Castillo de Canena ‘Luis Vañó’ Prize for Research Related to the Olive Oil Industry. The competition – with a prize worth €6,000, and includes an official plaque and the publication of the study – is organised by this prestigious olive-oil producer in Jaén with the support of the University of Jaén and the American university UC Davis.

The study was written by María Benlloch-González, Manuel Benlloch Marín and Ricardo Fernández-Escobar from the Department of Agronomy at the Technical College of Agronomic Engineering at the University of Córdoba, which is part of the International Campus of Excellence on Agrofood (ceiA3).

The panel of judges highlighted both the quality and the number of studies submitted, a total of sixteen for this 5th edition. Regarding the winning study, it is important to note that it addresses a topic of great current concern for the public in general and for the olive-oil industry in particular: Climate change, and in this case, its effects on olive cultivation, something that had not been studied until now. The results offered by this study can be
applied to the management in the way olives are grown.

The researchers point out in their study that despite the fact that the temperature in the Mediterranean basin, the main area of olive cultivation, is expected to increase dramatically in the near future – threatening olive production – there are no informative field studies on the possible effects of the projected increase in air temperature on olive yields, perhaps due to the difficulty of controlling temperature under natural conditions.

The goal, and novel approach, of the work carried out was to simulate conditions of global arming under field conditions, in an area with a Mediterranean climate where there are fluctuations in temperature and photoperiodsm throughout the year. To achieve this goal, open temperature-controlled chambers, equipped with heating and ventilation devices, were used to increase the day/night ambient temperature by 4ºC during the entire reproductive cycle ofa Picual olive crop.

This three-year-long study showed that an increase of 4°C in ambient temperature can lead to early flowering, an extended flowering period, an increase in pistil abortion and reduced fruit production, all of which are conditions that result in lower yields. In addition, it showed that warmer temperatures also affect the characteristics of olives and their ripening processes, and observed, for example, smaller fruits and lower pulp/stone ratios, among
other things.

All of these results provide information on the future performance of olive groves under warmer temperature conditions linked to climate change – important information for the future management of this crop.

The International Castillo de Canena ‘Luis Vañó’ Prize for Research Related to the Olive Oil Industry aims to promote and encourage scientific and technological knowledge in the sphere of research on olive groves and olive oils. This initiative, set up in 2011, is one of the various activities that this olive-oil producer carries out as part of its model of Corporate Social Responsibility. The awards ceremony will be held at Castillo de Canena this coming May.

 

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