Olive growers might be some of the few farmers to see increased yields and profits in a warmer world, a new study suggests. Using a regional climate model, researchers looked at how a rise in global average temperature of 1.8°C (the temperature change expected between the 1960s and the 2040s) might affect the growth of olive trees (Olea europaea) and the olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae), one of the crop’s major pests. In the Mediterranean Basin, where 97% of the world’s olive crop is grown (much of it to produce olive oil), expected climate change will cause yields across the region to grow by 4.1% and net profits to grow by 9.6%, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While the region’s olive crop will improve overall, some areas will see profits (expressed in euros per hectare on this map) drop substantially, the researchers estimate. In North Africa, where yields are now low, estimated profits will rise more than 41%, but in the Middle East, along the eastern portions of the Mediterranean, profits will decline an average of 7.2%. How increased warmth affects the olive fruit fly will have the biggest effect on profits, the team notes: Because the olive tree withstands heat better than its major pest does, some areas now infested with the olive fruit fly will become unsuitable for the insect in coming years.
(Linked map credit: Luigi Ponti)