` Texas Olive Oil Producers Beating the Odds - Olive Oil Times

Texas Olive Oil Producers Beating the Odds

Sep. 16, 2014
Danielle Putier

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Jim Kamas, assis­tant pro­fes­sor and exten­sion spe­cial­ist at Texas AgriLife Extension, released an opin­ion state­ment reject­ing the like­li­hood of Texas becom­ing a com­mer­cial man­u­fac­turer for olive oil, cit­ing such chal­lenges as the crop’s cold sen­si­tiv­ity, an unsuit­able cli­mate, and olive trees’ sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to soil-borne pathogens. Yet despite such acknowl­edged hard­ships, Texas farm­ers are push­ing back against the odds.

The Lone Star State brought home three awards at this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition with the Texas Olive Oil Company & Bella Vista Ranch, and Texas Hill Country Olive Company (the only organic olive farm in the state) the big win­ners.
See Also: Texas’s Olive Oil Boom (Wall Street Journal)
The Texas Olive Oil Council has been inte­gral to the suc­cess of the indus­try; we finally fig­ured out where to put the trees. The secret to good pro­duc­tion is to have a tem­per­a­ture dur­ing the bloom­ing process and fruit set that is not too volatile,” says Jim Henry, co-founder of the TOOC.

Last year it was esti­mated Texas had around 50 grow­ers. One of the newest to join the expand­ing num­ber of olive tree grow­ers is Curtis Mickan and his grand­son Josh Swafford. Mickan told AgriLife Today he wanted to grow some­thing that would both con­tribute to long-term soci­ety and con­tinue a fam­ily legacy. The pair decided to open an olive ranch after learn­ing the U.S. was the third-largest con­sumer of olive oil.

Texas has seen a wide­spread appeal for pro­duc­tion of local foods. And thanks to the Texas Olive Oil Council, the trade is becom­ing more acces­si­ble to local farm­ers. Since May of this year, the Texas Olive Oil Council has spon­sored two edu­ca­tional train­ing ses­sions, both pre­sented by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. The first focused on Olive Orchard Management offer­ing analy­ses of soil and site prepa­ra­tion, irri­ga­tion and nutri­tion, vari­eties, dis­ease con­trol, and weed man­age­ment, while the lat­est sem­i­nar, held this past August, dis­cussed prop­er­ties of grow­ing and milling olives.

Horticulturist Larry Stein said AgriLife Extension will be increas­ing plant­ing tri­als and research to fur­ther develop the best grow­ing prac­tices for prospec­tive farm­ers. We’ve got a lot of ques­tions and we have a lot of inter­est and energy, so we expect to learn a lot in the next cou­ple of years.”


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