`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

Recent News

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.”


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.

Related News