It’s hard to imagine that there are still some people who remain unconvinced that the weather is changing. On a global level we see images of devastating fires and hurricanes and melting ice caps, but the changes are also felt at the local level – at least, at our local level.
Our summers are longer, hotter and drier. Fortunately in the autumn and winter the water table and the aquifers are normally replenished by periods of heavy, almost violent rain, storms, hail – you name it. In 2020 for instance we did not see a frost until late November, almost unheard of. And during this past winter we have had only two short spells of really cold weather but a lot of rain.
This means that we have seen some unusual events. For example, our late-fruiting raspberries were giving us delicious fruit in mid-November, and we had roses out in January!
Also in November I saw a praying mantis, an insect that we normally see in September, perhaps in October. I wondered if it was a relative of the spindly creature that I saw on the windowsill of my office in the spring. It was almost transparent, and I eventually identified it as a mantis nymph.
What does all this mean for our olives? Fortunately the olive tree is very resilient. It will survive periods of extreme heat and cold, but each variety has its own limits. The trees there may be damaged and need reshaping, but in a few years they will again be productive. As the climate warms we may have to consider planting varieties now grown in southern Italy or North Africa that are more resistant to heat and drought.
It was reported recently that some farmers in Apulia are already experimenting with growing avocados, bananas and even mangoes. Perhaps that is what the long-term future holds for us too.