Farm Focus: Defying the Trend - Olive Harvests
Our olive trees have set fruit and are beginning to ripen. We are already eagerly awaiting the first press of 2018 which should happen sometime in mid-October, especially because we are completely out of stock of our 2017 press. Though we’ve been growing olives and bottling oil for 14 years, last fall was the first year we ran out of oil before our next press. Unfortunately, we’ve come to the end of our 2017 press inventory earlier even than last Fall.
On the positive side for us, this is not due to low harvest volume but because our deliciously complex Tuscan style oil has become increasingly popular. Traditionally, olives are an alternate year bearing crop, meaning they typically have one year with a large volume of fruit and the following year’s harvest is small, usually, about 50 percent reduced. For the first eight years of our olive production, they followed this trend. However, with gratitude, we’ve seen our trees defy this pattern. For the last 6 years we’ve been blessed with large harvests year after year. Our management techniques mirror those of other olive growers and our production techniques have not changed since we planted the trees - pruning, irrigation and nutrient programs have remained consistent. The only change has been the introduction of our compost program, which Farmer Al attributes to the record crops we’ve been experiencing. Our compost program was initiated seven years ago. We believe the increase of biodiversity in the soil due to our compost, and as a result, the nutrients available to the trees is responsible for our trend-defying harvests.
For the 2017 olive harvest, we pressed about 800 gallons of oil. Per ton of olives, we press about 35 gallons of oil. With only 2 acres of olive trees, we feel great about harvesting almost 23 tons of olives a season! This year we are contemplating expanding our olive acreage to accommodate the growing demand for our superb oil. You’ll be hearing more about our upcoming 2018 harvest and pressing as it approaches. We can’t wait to taste this year’s press!