`California's 'Rainpocalypse' Good News for State's Olive Oil Producers

N. America

California's 'Rainpocalypse' Good News for State's Olive Oil Producers

Dec. 11, 2014
By Olive Oil Times Staff

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Going from one extreme to the other, Cal­i­for­nia farm­ers are wel­com­ing what some are call­ing bib­li­cal rain” that will bring relief from this year’s his­toric drought.

The storm will par­tially replen­ish water sup­plies, but there is still a long way to go- Dan Flynn, UC Davis Olive Cen­ter

While this sin­gle storm, hash­tagged #rain­poca­lypse and #stor­maged­don by the locals, will not end the drought com­pletely, it will be a major step in the right direc­tion for olive farm­ers in the Golden State, experts say.

Paul Vossen, farm advi­sor for the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion said lack of rain­fall over the last few years left many olive farms with low soil mois­ture that ulti­mately stressed the trees.

Part of that stress influ­enced the crop load, which was lower than nor­mal and it also advanced the ripen­ing of the fruit,” said Vossen. This autumn har­vest was at least 2 – 3 weeks early and was fin­ished by Thanks­giv­ing.”


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Cal­i­for­ni­a’s pro­longed drought will result in an esti­mated 25-per­cent drop in U.S. olive oil pro­duc­tion for the 2013 – 2014 sea­son, accord­ing to recent esti­mates. Sharply reduced out­put in Spain, Italy and Por­tu­gal will add to a dis­mal sea­son for world olive oil pro­duc­tion. But there’s always next year.
See more: Com­plete Cov­er­age of the 2014 Olive Har­vest
The rain­fall we are receiv­ing right now is wel­come for refill­ing the soil pro­files, so that the olive trees can start off next spring with good growth,” Vossen said. It is also a relief to see enough rain to start to see a replen­ish­ment of our reser­voirs, so that irri­ga­tion water will once again be plen­ti­ful for next sum­mer’s needs. Even though we may get some tem­po­rary flood­ing, all in all, this rain­fall is a wel­come thing.”

The rough weather, how­ever, will also be met with some con­cern for the trees and pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties through­out the state.

Vin­cent Ric­chiuti, of the NYIOOC award-win­ning Enzo Olive Oil Com­pany, was brac­ing for more than a lot of water: There is no ques­tion that the impend­ing storm will bring some much needed water to our region. How­ever, depend­ing on the mag­ni­tude of the winds that are pre­dicted to hit, there could be some sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to our trees or struc­tures.”

Dan Flynn, direc­tor of the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis Olive Cen­ter, said his team har­vested the cam­pus olives yes­ter­day to get what they could before the storm hit.

The storm will par­tially replen­ish water sup­plies, but there needs to be much more rain over the next sev­eral months before the drought can be declared over,” said Flynn. There is still a long way to go.”

Flynn said nearly all of the crop has been har­vested in the state by now, although some har­vest­ing will con­tinue for smaller pro­duc­ers once the groves dry out. One threat that the rain brings is olive knot, which can spread in wet con­di­tions, par­tic­u­larly when just-har­vested trees have leaf scars and bark dam­age that allow the pathogen to enter,” he warned.

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