` Drought Just a Bump in the Road for California Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Drought Just a Bump in the Road for California Olive Oil

Aug. 21, 2014
Danielle Putier

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Imports cur­rently account for more than 95 per­cent of U.S. olive oil con­sump­tion, but as con­sumers become more edu­cated about domes­tic options, American pro­duc­ers are gear­ing up to take the baton.

The U.S. olive oil mar­ket has been grow­ing at an annual rate of approx­i­mately 8 per­cent over the past decade. Nathanael Johnson from Grist reports that approx­i­mately 35,000 acres of olive trees occupy the Golden State, and the California Olive Council expects 3,500 new acres to be planted each year until 2020.

This season’s drought has ush­ered fears of under­pro­duc­tion and, while a recent report sug­gests a dip in pro­duc­tiv­ity, this has been attrib­uted to a harsh win­ter in 2013 and the fruit trees being alter­nate-bear­ing.” While this is con­sid­ered an off year” for the crop where decreased pro­duc­tion is antic­i­pated, the over­all mar­ket is on the rise.

Given the recent drought and pre­dic­tions for more intense weather pat­terns in the future, many farm­ers are aban­don­ing pre­vi­ously high-yield crops like rice and almonds for olives because of their heat-resis­tance.

The Fresno Bee recently reported, In the Sacramento Valley, where water dis­tricts have been shrink­ing water allo­ca­tions, the gritty olive tree, with its gnarly bark and thin, dusty-look­ing leaves, has become a go-to crop.” Olive farmer Dan Kennedy said, We can pro­duce (an olive) crop with 1 acre-foot of water per acre,” where crops such as almonds and rice demand at least twice as much water to pro­duce.


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