Harvest in Full Swing at Italy's Award-Winning Farms

Expectations are high among Italy's top-rated producers as their farms and mills run at full tilt.

l'Olinda Farm
Oct. 20, 2020
By Ylenia Granitto
l'Olinda Farm

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With the olive har­vest under­way in the north­ern hemi­sphere, many Italian pro­duc­ers are work­ing at full capac­ity. Sicilian grow­ers were among the firsts to start the dances in the sec­ond half of September, imme­di­ately fol­lowed by other Southern Italian farm­ers.

Most millers sched­uled the open­ing of their facil­i­ties for the mid­dle of October while grow­ers in north­ern regions grad­u­ally began to take to their fields.

See Also:The World’s Best Olive Oils

At l’Olinda Olive Farm, a mill with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy is at the heart of an organic 110-hectare (272-acre) estate in the hills of the province of Ancona. Centuries-old trees are flanked by younger ones added over the years to enrich the pro­duc­tion lines of the com­pany.

In the first days of October, we kicked off the cam­paign start­ing from our plants of Leccino, whose fruits were at the right level of ripeness,” Francesco Sabbatini Rossetti told Olive Oil Times. From mid-October, we have con­tin­ued with Raggia, Mignola, and then all the other vari­eties.”


The harvest team at l’Olinda Farm

We are con­fi­dent that this will be a good sea­son, with the groves almost com­pletely recov­ered from the frost dam­ages caused by Burian,” the farmer explained, adding that the farm had recov­ered 70 per­cent of the nor­mal out­put prior to the his­toric cold wave dubbed the Beast from the East.

In the last month, we reg­is­tered a lim­ited pres­ence of [olive fruit] fly that had no con­se­quences,” Rossetti said. We also have coped well with the recent weather issues, and now I can say that we have again attained top-level stan­dards.”


In the foothills of the Madonie moun­tains, at Cantarella farm, the first fruits were picked in early October. On the heights of San Mauro Castelverde, in the province of Palermo, Alessandro Zito man­ages about 5,000 plants of Crastu and some Giarraffa.

We pro­duce most of our extra vir­gin olive oil from Crastu, which is an autochtho­nous vari­ety mainly located in this area of Sicily,” said Zito. It has given us much sat­is­fac­tion, both in the field, from the point of view of the agro­nomic man­age­ment, and in the bot­tle, with its high polyphe­nol con­tent.”


Alessandro Zito

The fruits of his plants sit­u­ated at 600 meters (1,970 feet) above the sea level are pressed within eight hours from har­vest in the com­pany facil­ity, which boasts high-tech machin­ery.

Zito took the reins of the com­pany from his father who, in turn, had fol­lowed the long fam­ily tra­di­tion of olive grow­ing.

Most of our plants are cen­turies old with some trunks reach­ing a meter in diam­e­ter, so we are talk­ing about sev­eral hun­dred years,” he revealed. From these mon­u­men­tal olive trees, he obtains a blend and dif­fer­ent lines of mono­va­ri­etals.

Fruits col­lected early give life to a prod­uct with an intense fruiti­ness and rich aro­matic hints,” Zito noted. Now, despite this summer’s drought, we have still man­aged to get many healthy olives, and this makes me think that, again this year, we will have very good results.”

Everything is ready at Le Fontacce in Loro Ciuffenna for the har­vest sched­uled to begin today (October 20). We have about 3,000 olive trees, mainly Moraiolo, Frantoio, and Leccino,” Simone Botti told Olive Oil Times from his organic grove in the province of Arezzo.

In 2008, he cre­ated the com­pany, tak­ing over the man­age­ment of a prop­erty that had belonged to his fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions. Over the years, he set up a mill and added land where irises and legumes, such as the autochtho­nous Zolfino bean, grow close to the olive trees.


Simone Botti

Our ter­ri­tory is hilly, and more than half of the plants are located on ancient dry-walled ter­races, often in a posi­tion that makes har­vest­ing and other agro­nomic prac­tices quite dif­fi­cult,” Botti pointed out, spec­i­fy­ing that the other half is located on a flat­ter area near the com­pany facil­i­ties.

I believe that an advanced tech­nol­ogy milling sys­tem is fun­da­men­tal to get the most out of fruits,” the Tuscan farmer observed. With all the atten­tion that qual­ity pro­duc­tion requires, they are picked and pressed within the day. If last year’s issues — like the of the pres­ence of the fly — led us to a drop in vol­umes, the efforts we made in the grove in the last months paid off, and we are ready to col­lect a large amount of sound fruits.”

By the end of the month, the har­vest is planned to begin at the coop­er­a­tive BioOrto of Apricena. A few years ago, we decided to invest in the high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil sec­tor,” said Mirko Conte, the export man­ager of the com­pany devoted to the pro­duc­tion of veg­eta­bles and toma­toes.

Then, we have set up a state-of-the-art mill and focused on the Peranzana vari­ety, which, with its har­mo­nious com­bi­na­tion of bit­ter­ness, spici­ness, and tomato notes, is giv­ing us great sat­is­fac­tion, espe­cially on the for­eign mar­ket. In this sense, the recog­ni­tion obtained at the NYIOOC [World Olive Oil Competition] strength­ened our pres­tige on the inter­na­tional stage,” Conte added.


A harvest team at BioOrto

Their 8,000 plants, which also include Ogliarola Garganica and Coratina, are among the gen­tle hills of the Gargano National Park, which offers ideal, com­fort­able con­di­tions for their devel­op­ment. The lands are close to the mill and the fruits are pressed in a mat­ter of hours in the mod­ern facil­ity man­aged by expe­ri­enced millers.

We are among the largest organic com­pa­nies in south­ern Italy, yet size does not pre­vent us from aim­ing for qual­ity,” Conte told Olive Oil Times. In fact, in addi­tion to the com­pany groves, we rely on those man­aged by small pro­duc­ers, which are care­fully fol­lowed by our tech­ni­cians. We have become a ref­er­ence point for local olive grow­ers, and it is also thanks to their com­mit­ment that we reach the high­est lev­els of qual­ity.”

Despite a slight decrease in vol­umes after the large yield of last year, the plants are in great shape, thanks to the fine weather in the sum­mer months that gave the promise of another good sea­son.

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