Georgios Koulbouris. Institute of Olive Tree of Greece

Extreme environmental conditions have challenged olive tree cultivation more frequently in recent decades. The intensity and duration of heat incidents and periods without rainfall are observed to increase, harming flowering and fruit yields. Even though olive grove management has advanced significantly, fruit yields still rely heavily on weather suitability. Almost every year, one major olive-producing country reports a drastic yield decrease due to climatic causes. In several projects, we aimed to evaluate an extensive germplasm collection for tolerance to abiotic stresses (water deficit, salinity, high temperature, low temperature, UV-B radiation) and phytopathological factors (olive fruit fly, verticillium). We also implemented multiyear field trials applying a magnitude of sustainable management practices for increasing the resilience of olive trees to climatic changes and enhancing their mitigation role through carbon sequestration.

All things considered, the consequences of climate change on agriculture—more specifically, on the growing of olive trees in the Mediterranean region—are intricate and varied. Strategies based on adjustments to agricultural practices and land use that increase the amount of carbon stored in tree biomass and soils may be useful in lowering atmospheric CO2 in order to successfully counteract those effects. Attenuating the effects of climate change involves using crop- and soil-management practices that improve soil water storage, reduce the likelihood of flooding, and ameliorate drought-induced agricultural water stress. Recycled organic materials from the area can improve soil's ability to store carbon and provide the mineral nutrients necessary for tree growth.

Soil productivity needs to be increased, or at the very least maintained, in light of climate change and growing agricultural demands. In order to maintain olive productivity under harsh climate conditions, it is imperative to apply good agricultural practices, such as better pruning, irrigation, and fertilization techniques, along with long-term sustainable soil-improvement strategies to reduce water and nutrient losses. In actuality, the need to shift to sustainable agriculture systems is evident at every stage, from the local to the global. This means that in order to maintain the quantity, quality, and safety of agricultural food, measures to improve carbon sequestration, reduce pollution emissions, and stop the depletion of natural resources must be put in place.


Funding: This research has been partially financed by the Greek national funds through the Action "Establishment of a National Research Network in the Olive Value Chain", code 2018ΣΕ01300000 of GSRT, the General Secretariat for Research and Innovation of the Ministry of Development and Investments under the PRIMA Programme for the project Freeclimb (PRIMA is an Art.185 initiative supported and co-funded under Horizon 2020, the European Union’s Programme for Research and Innovation), the PRIMA and Horizon2020 Framework programmes for the Project Sustainolive, the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101000427 for the project Gen4Olive, and the LIFE Programme for the Project Olivares Vivos+, and the European Union and national Funds of Greece for the Project OliveAlarm.


Keywords: adaptation, breeding, climate change, mitigation, plant phenotyping.