Hot Weather and Little Rain Marks 2005 Cork Harvest
Another hot summer in Europe coupled with a drier than usual year seems to have contributed to lower yields yet better quality cork, according to Jochen Michalski, president of Cork Supply Group, the nation's largest provider of premium natural cork wine stoppers.
“It was a tough year,” said Michalski. “It was hot and there was little rain. While these conditions led to a reduction in quantity, the quality of that wood was outstanding.”
Michalski says that early harvest estimates for the Portuguese cork forests projected a yield of 120,000 tons of cork wood, however, in the end only 80,000 tons were harvested, 20,000 tons less than last year.
“The important cork forests of southern Portugal escaped the fires that wreaked havoc on the nation during August,” said Michalski. “The fires were confined mostly to the mountains in the north where more than 240,000 hectares of eucalyptus, pine and brush burned. Overall the fires will have little effect on the cork wood supply and its quality, and will have no effect on us at all because we transfer all the cork wood we buy directly to our factory right after it's harvested.”
Michalski reports that this year's harvest started in the third week of May. “It was about two weeks earlier than usual and ended in mid-July, a full three weeks earlier than normal,” he said.
“Fortunately our team of forest managers has been working with growers for several years now to help improve the wood harvested from the cork trees,” said Michalski. “This is paying off as we are seeing an increase in wood quality year after year.”
The overall increase in wood quality is good news for those winemakers who prefer to seal their bottles with traditional cork. “Demand for natural cork is still at an all time high, but as the dollar has become more stable, we hope to be able to keep any price increases to a bare minimum,” said Michalski.
Cork is produced from the bark of the quercus suber tree, also called cork oak, which grows predominantly in Portugal and a few other countries about the Mediterranean . The trees are stripped every nine to ten years, when the bark is thick enough to provide viable commercial use. By cycling the production schedule of trees, cork foresters maintain a consistent and reliable source of wood. Nearly 99 percent of all cork harvested is used for commercial purposes in one manner or another. The highest quality cork is generally reserved for wine stoppers, with lower grades used in a host of products ranging from linoleum and ceiling tiles to auto parts and shoe soles. Protected by the Portuguese government as a renewable resource, the average life span of a cork tree is more than 200 years.
© 2001-2003 All
Holy Land Wines.com - all rights reserved!