19 Jun

Australian Olive growers face low yields

By Kim Woods,

Harvest, which began in mid-April, is wrapping up after severe frosts last week.
Wagga Wagga, in NSW, is home to about 55,000 trees owned by investment companies and small growers.

The Riverina Olive Growers Association has 45 active members picking fruit from up to 30,000 trees.

Association secretary Vici Murdoch said unseasonal heat and rain had caused some “unbalanced” oils and that oil yields at 19 per cent were 1-2 per cent down on average.

Ms Murdoch said the Riverina harvest was targeted at the boutique market and would be unaffected by bulk quantities of oil flooding the market this year.

“Bulk prices are at $7-$8/litre but if that oil is bottled, then it’s worth $40-$60/litre,” she said.

Wagga Wagga growers and processors Neville and Chris Chapple machine-harvested fruit from 7500 trees this year, including three tonnes of table olives.

Two years ago the couple, of Wollundry Grove, bought a $500,000 processing plant and this year added $250,000 of harvesting machinery.

Able to process 500kg an hour, it’s the only olive oil processing plant in the eastern Riverina and one of three of its type in Australia.

The Topavi harvesting machine, imported from Italy, can also be used on almond, pistachio, walnut, apple and plum crops.

Mr Chapple said the harvester vibrated the top of the tree rather than the root system, causing fruit to drop into a large umbrella.

He said a tree was shaken for no more than 10 seconds.

“This machine will benefit small growers in this region due to the high cost of manual labour and the lack of casual pickers,” Mr Chapple said.

“But, the groves must be well managed and the trees be mature (over six years) with a clean trunk for the harvester.”

Mr and Mrs Chapple planted 2000 oil and table fruit trees of manzanillo, frantio, nevadillo, corrigiolo and leccino 11 years ago.

A November hail storm destroyed a third of this year’s crop.

“Fruit quality is the best ever but in terms of oil extracted, yields and tonnage are down,” Mr Chapple said.

“Prices are 10-20 per cent lower as the larger groves come into full production, but we expected that.”

To offset the hit at retail level, the couple plan to increase their presence at food and wine shows, online and in the local tourism market.

[Source] Click here

2 Responses to “Australian Olive growers face low yields”

  1. Heidi Holt Says:

    I am interested in buying extra virgin olive oil on a regular basis, for the first order i am looking at 4 x 25ltr drums to be delivered to sydney. Please let me know a costing per litre.

    regards Heidi

  2. Avner Says:

    Our Olive Oil Farm is in the western side of the valley of Jezreel. Ten years old trees that yield good crops used for making quality olive oil.

    Mediterranean climate enables olive trees to live without irrigation. In modern agriculture olive trees are being irrigated from spring to fall. On the other hand, olive trees are sensitive to excess of water, thus it is important to discharge the proper rate that fits the the tree size and type of soil.

    We use the “Micro-Drip” irrigation made by Rain-Tal Ltd. The drip emitters discharges about 0.5L/H and 3 to 4 are placed around each tree. The water flow is operated continuously during all the days of the week, starting from March till October. The continuous water flow prevents formation of sediments at the drippers outlets and therefore clogging of drippers is avoided. Obviously this is a superior water saving method. Further details of our irrigation method are provided in our website, link:

    Bi-Annual Alternate Bearing in Olive crops is known all over the Mediterranean. During the last several years we found that our crops are at the higher level every year. We relate this moderation of the Alternate Bearing to our unique irrigation method.

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