10 Jul

Central Valley olive harvest in question

  • Olive growers assess crop size
  • May not justify harvesting

This year might go into the books as the year there was no olive harvest in the Central Valley, at least for some growers.

A farmers’ group, the Olive Growers Council in Visalia, says many of the state’s groves carry extremely light crops.

In coming weeks, Central Valley olive farmers will be assessing whether their trees hold enough fruit to justify harvesting.

The problem stems from the weather. Warm January temperatures stimulated the trees, which then dropped blossoms when it turned cold in February … and lost more blossoms to spring rains.

The first government estimate of the state’s olive crop is due next week.

The 2006 weather is the latest blow to California’s roughly 1,200 olive growers. Central Valley producers, many of which have been noted for high quality oils, have a hard time competing for business because of substantially higher operating costs compared to producers in Spain, Italy and other countries.

While the Central Valley produces almost all of the country’s olives, the U.S. remains a net importer of olives and olive products.

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