Phenological changes in olive (Ola europaea L.) reproductive cycle in southern Spain due to climate change

Jose Oteros 1,  
Department of Botany, Ecology and Plant Physiology, Agrifood Campus of International Excellence (ceiA3), University of Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
Ann Agric Environ Med 2015;22(3):421–428
Introduction. Modifications of crop species phenology due to a changing environment are of interest because of their impact on fruit set and final harvest. Pre-flowering and flowering phenophases in olive groves at different sites of southern Spain were examined, in order to chart potential trends and determine major correlations with weather-related parameters, especially temperature and water availability. The high prevalence of olive pollen allergy in the Mediterranean population makes this study highly relevant. Materials and methods. Ten sites in Cordoba province (Spain) during a 17-year period (1996–2012). BBCH phenology scale. Meteorological data from 1960 were analyzed; data from 1996 included on modeling analysis. Linear Mixed Models (LMMs) were developed, combining phenological and meteorological data. Results. Since 1960, local spring temperatures have increased 1.5ºC, the number of spring rainfall days has fallen 11 days, total rainfall has declined 150 mm. Despite phenological differences between sites, attributable to altitude, phenological development during the season followed a similar pattern. Flowering dates advanced 2 days, while inflorescence emergence was delayed 24 days. Trend slopes revealed differences, an earlier period (1996–2002) with a sharp flowering advance of 15 days, and a later period (2003–2012) characterized by a gradual advance and a high bud emergence delay of 22 days. Conclusions. LMMs was revealed as an appropriate technique for phenology behaviour analysis displaying both fixed and random interactions. Cultivars grown in the study province are adapted to climate with a synchronized response, although climate change is affecting theolive reproductive cycle in southern Spain; therefore, the timing of pollen release, with subsequent consequences on allergic population as phenological changes, could have impacts on flowering period and pollen production. Further investigation is required of the implications for crop production in Mediterranean ecosystems.