14 Aug

Disaster predicted for Central Valley olive growers

• Crop less than half of last year’s
• Weather is blamed

For Central Valley olive growers, who produce virtually all of the U.S. olive crop, 2006 is shaping up to be a disastrous year.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service is predicting the lowest olive production in 25 years.

They project a 50,000-ton crop, 65 percent less than last year’s 142,000 tons and the lowest amount since 1981.

All olive growing regions were heavily impacted by poor spring weather. A warm January caused trees to blossom and February freezes damaged fruit buds.

Heavy rains and cool temperatures during the peak bloom period in April and May knocked blossoms off trees and disrupted pollination, the NASS says.

“These conditions have resulted in reports of orchards with little to no crop,” the report says.

Manzanillo and Sevillano varieties are expected to account for 76 percent and 20 percent of total production, respectively.

The NASS says it expects growers will harvest 38,000 tons of Manzanillo olives, compared to 116,000 last year. Just 10,000 tons of Sevillano olives are expected to be harvested, half of last year’s crop, the NASS says.

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