California olive crop off almost 50 percent

The 2008 California olive crop forecast is 65,000 tons, down 49 percent from last year's crop of 132,500 tons, according to the USDA/NASS California field office.

Bearing acreage is estimated at 31,000 for a yield of 2.10 tons per acre, compared with last year's yield of 4.27 tons. Of the total production, an estimated 53,000 tons will be utilized for canning, and the remaining 12,000 tons are expected to be harvested for oil or specialty products.

The 2008 California olive crop is turning out light. Lack of rains during the spring months caused some areas to be water stressed. There were also less than ideal weather conditions during the blooming period. The erratic temperature swings from hot to cold and high winds during bloom left many trees with a spotty set. The bloom period stretched out over approximately five weeks. The April freeze damaged crops, which became evident with new growth. Some growers were evaluating whether the spotty crop will make harvest costs prohibitive.

The Manzanillo and Sevillano olive varieties are expected to produce 78.4 percent and 10.8 percent of the total olive crop, respectively. The remaining 10.8 percent is expected to come from all other varieties.

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