Olive growers encouraged to harvest

California's olive processor need olives, according to Adin Hester of Visalia, president of the Olive Growers Council of California, and they are willing to pay the price to get them.

The council has completed negotiations with the state's major olive processors for the 2000 crop well ahead of last year because of a short crop and the olive fruit fly threat.

"The state's olive growers have been uncertain about what to do with their 2000 olive crop," said Hester. It is an abnormally light crop and growers are perplexed about whether it is worth spraying for Olive fruit fly to make it harvestable.

"With the current price schedule, I think the message is clear. We need to encourage all growers to spray and try to harvest whatever is on the trees," he said. "We need the tonnage for the market, and we need to clean the fruit off the trees to eliminate olive fruit fly host material."

Competition from foreign imports has reduced to two the number of olive processors in California, one in Tracy and the other in Corning.

"Subsidized imports enjoy a place in the U.S. market because they are able to compete favorably thanks to foreign government support," said Hester. "Olives grown in California do not enjoy this same luxury."

In the accompanying table are prices for the 2000 crop.

The Musco price schedule includes a bonus/penalty price for the first time. For growers who keep cullage to a minimum, there is an opportunity to increase individual load values by $50 per ton.

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