Olive oil producers in the Mediterranean basin are watching this season's blossom very closely. For the next week or so, they will be praying that the white flowers stay on the trees: last year Spain was hit by heavy blossom drop, reducing the final crop. Ex-works peseta prices for Spanish extra virgin have been stable, suggesting that although the market is firm, there are no particular concerns at present for the crop. The strong pound has helped to keep factory prices around the £1,400 mark. Having strengthened by 22 pesetas to 287 to the pound in recent months, the sterling effect is measurable but not a determining factor. If the Spanish industry expects a big crop, producers will be willing, if not eager, to sell their current stocks. Such a chance may come even if the blossom sets a lot of fruit. There is a period in which small fruits will also drop, extending the sensitive period for the final crop forecasts. For now, producers are reassured by the sight of white trees in the groves and not a white carpet of dropped flowers. {{PROVISIONS }}