10 Jul

California crop estimate at just 65,000 tons

By Julie R. Johnson,

The Sevillano olive crop in California is doing poorly this year with little fruit on the tree,

As olive growers in the state continue to struggle in an industry fraught with problems such as the olive fruit fly, foreign imports, and labor issues, it was unwelcome news to learn this year’s Sevillano olive crop in California is forecast to be one of the poorest on record.

Ross Turner, an olive grower in Corning, and a member of the California Olive Committee (COC), after attending the committee’s annual meeting in Modesto on Tuesday, said a bad freeze in April and dehydrating north winds have had a devastating impact on a large part of this year’s Sevillano crop in the Sacramento Valley. The committee’s forecast is based on reports from growers and the cannery field men from Musco Family Olives in Tracy, and Bell-Carter Foods in Corning.

“The Manzanillo crop appears to be good, but the Sevillano is in bad shape,” Turner said.

The COC is forecasting a total crop estimate of 65,000 total-tonnage, including all varieties of canning olives in the state.

Price per ton growers will receive for their olive crop has not been established by Musco or Bell-Carter, so the impact this year’s crop will have financially on growers is unknown.

Last year’s statewide olive crop was in excess of 123,000 tons and while this year’s crop forecast isn’t anywhere near that amount it isn’t as disastrous as the 2006 crop which was the smallest in the industries recorded history, said Turner.

In the Tehama County Department of Agriculture’s 2007 Crop Report last year the county had 5,500 bearing acres planted in olive orchards, which produced 24,960 tons of olives. That was a great improvement over the 2006 crop that was only 2,750 tons due to damaging winter and spring weather.

According to the TCDA, the 2007 crop’s financial value was $20,067,800.

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