A triple whammy! Climate change, pests and diseases
The combined effects of pests, disease and climate change on olive trees is resulting in a perfect storm. Olive trees across the Mediterranean have been hit by freak events that mirror climate change predictions- erratic rainfall, early spring frosts, strong winds and summer droughts. Olive trees are weakened by these events and even if they recover, they are also facing a deadly disease caused by a bacterium Xylella fastidiosa and an olive fly pest infestation in some areas. Xylella, originally from America, causes disease in many important crops including citrus, coffee and grapes. Outbreaks in Europe since 2013 have resulted in the death of many olive trees. The disease has not yet reached the UK, but temperature increases in southern England make it now possible to grow olive trees commercially here.