`Heavy Rains and High Hopes for Australian Olive Oil This Season - Olive Oil Times

Heavy Rains and High Hopes for Australian Olive Oil This Season

Apr. 14, 2011
Sarah Schwager

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The earth is moist, the trees are bloom­ing and the olives are shim­mer­ing as what looks set to be a record olive oil har­vest gets under­way in Australia.

The island nation is set for a mam­moth year in olive oil pro­duc­tion thanks to cli­matic con­di­tions that have worked in the olive grower’s favor.

This is great news for Australian olive oil pro­duc­ers and con­sumers alike after what was a dis­ap­point­ing yield last year for most.

Expectations are that the amount of oil pro­duced this year will be some­where between 16,000 and 19,000 tonnes – well above the yields of 2009 and 2010.

Harvest is only just get­ting under­way in Australia, start­ing in south­ern Queensland. It will wind up in Tasmania in July.

Australian Olive Association President Paul Miller said while expec­ta­tions are that it should be a larger crop than last year and pos­si­bly a record har­vest, it is still dif­fi­cult to say exactly how it will go, with the main har­vest tak­ing place next month.

Hopes are that the extra­or­di­nar­ily wet con­di­tions that Australia has seen this year will not inter­fere with the har­vest. Olives look great so far in most places although there are some issues with anthrac­nose in par­tic­u­larly wet and warm areas,” Mr. Miller said.

He said in gen­eral the oil should be great, with plenty of rain expe­ri­enced dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son in most regions. The dry regions have irri­ga­tion water and there hasn’t been any excep­tion­ally hot weather apart from in Western Australia.

Modern Olives Technical Director Leandro Ravetti said while a small amount of groves have been directly affected by floods, most of the indus­try in the east­ern states enjoyed lots of rain and man­aged to reduce irri­ga­tion and water costs.

Overall, I think that the rain will have a gen­er­ally pos­i­tive impact, not only for 2011, but also for the sea­sons to come,” he said.

He said there looks to be a good bal­ance across the states this year. Most of the high pro­duc­tion states are doing well, Western Australia is bounc­ing back after a low crop in 2010 and South Australia is also hold­ing its share of pro­duc­tion. Victoria will con­tinue to sup­ply more than half of the national crop.

It will be inter­est­ing to see just what type of oil and what qual­ity this year’s har­vest will bring due to the weather.

Mr. Ravetti said while the rainy con­di­tions should be con­ducive to milder and more bal­anced oils, the cooler than aver­age tem­per­a­tures through­out spring and sum­mer are likely to improve the fatty acid pro­files and the inten­sity of most organolep­tic attrib­utes.

Growers have gen­er­ally been very con­scious about con­trol­ling poten­tial dis­ease out­breaks so we are hop­ing to have a trou­ble-free har­vest,” he said.

The above aver­age rain­fall which led to good veg­e­ta­tive growth through­out the grow­ing sea­son also brings pos­i­tive expec­ta­tions for next year’s sea­son despite this year’s heavy crops.

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