Friday, 26 May 2023, 15:24
Recent rains in Malaga province still won’t be enough to salvage the olives, but it could be enough to save the almond crop.
After 80 days of drought, rain finally fell throughout the province in the past week, with about 50mm of rain collected at Malaga Airport, the official rain gauge for the area. Spain's state weather agency Aemet has forecast storms and heavy downpours this Saturday, 27 May, which are mainly set to fall in Malaga city and the Guadalhorce, Antequera and Axarquia areas.
According to farmers, many inland areas have received about 30-35mm, which has been a relief for the almond trees, but will not prevent most olive crop from being lost.
Antonio Luque, president of Dcoop, Spain's largest agricultural cooperative and world leader in oil production, welcomed the rainfall, but said that most of this year's crop is already lost. "We have to look to the future, to next year,” he said.
“It will be very complicated in the countryside: we are going to arrive without stock and with a crop as bad or worse than the previous one.” He is calling for more water infrastructure so that farmers do not have to depend on the sky for irrigation. "We have to continue to make a fuss about the lack of hydraulic infrastructures in Malaga,” he said.
Rafael Sánchez de Puerta, General Manager of Dcoop also said that unless there is very significant rainfall in the next few days, irrigation limitations will continue in the following months. "These rains are not going to help rainfed crops out of poverty, they are not going to allow the season to turn around,” he said.
Baldomero Bellido, president of Asaja Malaga (an association of young farmers), said that many of the olive trees had already lost their blossom prior to the downpours due to the lack of humidity: "Even if water falls on this tree now it is not going to produce any more. Besides, it hasn't been that much”.
"Almonds are a crop that has not been hit late by the rain, but this does not mean that it is going to be a good crop,” he added. "In areas where it is very late, where the flower is just now setting, this rain has been good for them because they are beginning to open.”
Francisco Moscoso, secretary general of UPA Malaga and head of agriculture for the organisation in Andalucía said: “As far as cereals are concerned, the season has been disastrous, it is not worth harvesting even for the animals, because wheat and barley are worth money and they are not big enough".
The only hope lies with the almond trees. "Those 30mm make the fruit set, but they need more water because we have had three years of drought and accumulating deficit,” he added.
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