05 Apr

Australia: Good oil goes big at Boort

By Sandra Godwin,

ONE of the world’s biggest single-site olive groves opened the gates to visitors last week to celebrate being named Olive Grower of the Year.

colossul-olive-machine-harvest Timbercorp’s 2777ha grove at Boort, managed by Boundary Bend Estate, was recognised by the Australian Olive Association for pioneering the production of quality olive oil on a large scale.

Development of Boort grove began in 2000 and Boundary Bend, which established its own groves in 1998, took over management in 2004.

Australian Olive Association president Paul Miller said the companies used modern technology and know-how when they began operations.

Everyone involved had to overcome many hurdles, Mr Miller said.

“They’ve improved pollination, addressed soil variability, run it very lean, yet they’re still producing fantastic quality oil and lots of it,” he said.

“Australia is leading the charge in terms of modern olive orchard culture. We’re constantly learning in this country because there’s no one else to teach us. These guys have been right at the front and so they’ve implemented a lot of improvements.”

Timbercorp horticulture general manager Darren Lipton told visitors and staff at the field day the award was confirmation of the company’s vision.

“Ten years ago people asked how anyone this size could commercially produce high quality extra virgin olive oil,” he said.

“I think we’ve proven a few of the pundits wrong (but) we’ve still got a long way to go. Now we need to lower costs and get yields higher.”

The grove accounts for 8 per cent of the area under olive oil production, but produces 38 per cent of Australia’s oil.

Oil produced at Boort competes against the world’s best at shows, and last year won two trophies and 39 medals.

As part of the open day, staff led guided tours through the grove of 997,000 trees and the on-site processing plant, which can crush more than 50,000 tonnes of olives a year.

A marquee offering information about testing allowed visitors to sample five varietals and six blends from the Cobram Estate label – which has a 30 per cent share of Australian supermarket sales – and there were displays by chemical, farm equipment and machinery suppliers.

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