`California's Bumper Crop Might Not Yield the Oil Some Predicted

N. America

California's Bumper Crop Might Not Yield the Oil Some Predicted

Oct. 15, 2015
Wendy Logan

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Ear­lier this month, with pre­lim­i­nary har­vest fore­casts look­ing strong for California’s olive grow­ers, the Cal­i­for­nia Olive Oil Coun­cil reported an expected yield of a record 4 mil­lion gal­lons (15.14 mil­lion liters) of olive oil.

The pre­dic­tion rep­re­sented a huge jump from the 2.4 mil­lion gal­lons (9.1 mil­liom liters) pro­duced in 2014.

Some, like The Olive Press’ Nancy Cline, con­curred, report­ing, We’re very excited about see­ing this bumper crop for 2015. The olives are com­ing in and we’re oper­at­ing the press 24 hours a day. The oil is look­ing mag­nif­i­cent and we’re delighted.”

I think peo­ple are see­ing the ton­nage on the trees and assum­ing. Some jumped the gun.- Adam Engle­hardt, Cobram Estate

Not so fast say a few oth­ers, whose high fruit yield may not trans­late into the jump expected in oil vol­ume.

That pre­dic­tion might be a bit aggres­sive,” said Cal­i­for­nia Olive Ranch CEO Gregg Kel­ley. I can tell you we do see a large crop from a ton­nage per­spec­tive. So on that front, all the news is true, and the qual­ity is fan­tas­tic. We haven’t seen qual­ity this high across the board for two or three years.

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But on the flip side, though our yields are high, heavy ton­nage often indi­cates lower fat con­tent,” Kel­ley cau­tioned. It’s fine — we’ll likely net out about what we expected.”

Hav­ing begun in early Sep­tem­ber, COR won’t com­plete their har­vest until mid-Novem­ber. With the weather still a big fac­tor in the har­vest­ing process, Kel­ley said it’s wait-and-see on oil yield until then.

At the Cobram Estate Cal­i­for­nia oper­a­tion, Adam Engle­hardt was just com­ing from the pro­cess­ing plant when reached by phone. His take was sim­i­lar to that of Kel­ley: It’s bet­ter than last year, but I’d be sur­prised if it’s quite the bumper crop expected. I think peo­ple are see­ing the ton­nage on the trees and assum­ing. Some jumped the gun. But a heavy crop usu­ally pro­duces less oil than a light one.”

The ton­nage out of our fields is pretty good — aver­age to above-aver­age. But the yield is less than at this time last year, based on the fact that there’s not a lot of oil in the fruit yet.”

Weather is always a fac­tor, Engle­hardt noted, with a warm, dry spring in 2015 and a lack of ade­quate irri­ga­tion stress­ing the trees. It’s not so much that they don’t bear fruit, he stated, reit­er­at­ing that such con­di­tions do not help to max­i­mize the olives’ oil yield.

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