Olive crop down for second year

The 2009 California olive crop forecast is 50,000 tons, down 25 percent from last year’s crop of 66,800 tons, according to the USDA/NASS. Bearing acreage is estimated at 29,000 for a yield of 1.72 tons. Of the total production, an estimated 44,000 tons will be utilized for canning and the remaining 6,000 tons are expected to be harvested for oil or specialty products.

For the second year in a row the California olive crop is turning out light. The 2009 crop which was looking promising in early spring has turned disappointing. There was a heavy bloom and set reported in spring, but conditions deteriorated as the growing season progressed. Small olives were reported with some falling off trees. The change in the outlook has been attributed to spring freezes, extreme temperatures and water stress to trees. These factors seem to have had the most severe impact in San Joaquin Valley and a lesser impact in the Sacramento Valley. The decline of the 2009 crop has led some growers to evaluate whether harvesting this year’s crop will be economically feasible.

The Manzanillo and Sevillano olive varieties are expected to produce 76 percent and 8 percent of the total olive crop, respectively. The remaining 16 percent is expected to come from all other varieties.

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