Posted by Olivia on Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
We’re gearing up for the 2012 olive harvest season at The Olive Press, and chances are that all of you olive growers are, as well. We’re excited, because this year promises to hold in store for California a great harvest season. When it comes to olive crops, they tend to be “alternate bearing,” which means the harvests tend to be bigger one year, then smaller the next. This year appears to be big!
Although less than 2% of the olive oil consumed in the United Stated is actually produced here, California olive oil production has been increasing in recent years, as a 2011 article in the New York Times documented. The increase in our local production comes at a time when fraud in the marketplace continues to gain exposure in the media, especially after a monumental study conducted by the Olive Center recently found that almost two-thirds of imported extra virgin olive oils do not actually meet international standards of quality. (Read the NYTimes’ full article here, and you’ll find our very own Olive Queen Deborah Rogers quoted in the piece.)
Olive oil educator Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne has written a thorough article on olive oil history, agriculture, and harvesting. As she points out, olive trees are resilient and hardy plants, and they tend to grow well in areas otherwise considered unfit for agriculture—areas with poor soil or slightly poor drainage. Be aware, however, that olive trees are susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures, and they prefer dry conditions over excessively wet ones. This is precisely why California is such an attractive region for olive growers; its moderately dry climate and varied soils are prime growing conditions for olive trees.
Aside from unfavorable weather conditions, one of the biggest threats to an olive tree (and the olives growing on it) is the olive fruit fly. Unlike the common fruit fly, the olive fruit fly lays its eggs under the skin of olives, and its larvae feed their way through the flesh of the fruit. This often results in bacterial and fungal growth. Learn how you can prevent the olive fruit fly from infesting your olive crop in our article here.
Once you’re ready to give a go at growing olives, be sure to swing by our website to explore our harvest tools available online. Our olive experts hand-select each product that we carry for quality and reliability. We also carry a growing collection of technical books for olive growers looking to expand their knowledge of this wonderful fruit.
Stay in touch with us as we move forward into the 2012 harvest. At our Sonoma location we offer tours, tastings, and seasonal events so that you can come by and learn first-hand about extra virgin olive oil production—and taste the difference in person. Find our current events and news right here.