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2013 @ Oregon Olives

Nov 21, 2013


You know you are rich when...


...you have four gallons of Olives de Nimes with eight different marinades for your eating pleasure!


             Chili garlic








The Oriental-style is flavored with cinnamon and cloves, amongst other spices.  Sounds just right for sharing on Thanksgiving Day!

Nov 23, 2013


Community Milling Day


Due to the threat of bad weather, we moved Community Milling Day up.  Alas, it was not enough, and the olives Dick and Eric were to bring got frosted (were exposed to temperatures in the teens and had started to rot).


So, not wanting to "harsh the mellow" we let them pick from our trees.  Dick did not want to stop!

While Eric found that "turning the crank" to feed the olive mill suited him just fine.

We ended up with a nice run of a Pendolino - Leccino blend.  Obligatory picture of the olive oil coming out of the mill:

Late Nov, 2013


Days in the Life of an Oregon Olive Farmer IXd - The Olive Harvest


I am undergoing a rapid re-learning process on the realities of harvesting and milling in Oregon.  We have been having a spell of fine cool clear fall days: day time temperatures around 50 F and night time temps between 28 and 32 F.  With no wind we have been out every day picking in our shirtsleeves and running the olive mill.  The changes in reality?


Growers in the excellent California climates may have the flexibility of picking how-so-ever they want, but in Oregon we need to pick before the weather ruins the crop.  Something is better than nothing, as our Community Milling Day clients found out!  (see below for story)


We are picking by cultivar and by blend; starting with the ripest cultivar we have, and choosing something else to compliment it and make a good olive oil if needed. 2.5 is now the threshold maturity level for making olive oil.  So far:


Nov 22-23 picked and milled a 100% Oregon grown 100% Oregon milled Leccino - Pendolino blend!

Nov 24 picked and milled the very first 100% Oregon grown single varietal Leccino olive oil (Reken Estate)!

Nov 25-26 picked and milled the very first 100% Oregon grown 100% Oregon milled Leccino-Pendolino-Maurino-Frantoio Tuscan blend!

Nov 27 picked and milled the second 100% Oregon grown 100% Oregon milled single varietal Leccino olive oil (Kathy's Grove)!

Nov 29 picked and milled out own special 100% Oregon 100% Oregon milled grown Dark Horse field blend!

Nov 29-30 picked and milled a 100% Oregon grown 100% Oregon milled "Heintz47" mix of all of our ripest olives.


Now, those of you with sharp eyes have noticed I keep saying 100% and "very first" for Oregon grown olive oil.  Interestingly enough, I stopped at Roth's supermarket the other day and read the label for those fine folks in Dundee's olive oil:


"The Oregon Olive Mill Arbequina oil is a premium blend of carefully sourced Extra Virgin olive oil from our own local olives and outstanding growers and millers in Northern California."


Wow!  Even I didn't realize these fine folks were not only bringing up tons of California olives to mill for their olive oil, but also bringing up California made olive oil to add to their [supposed] Oregon product.


Back to the realities in Oregon!  Something interesting has been happening to the olives, and I am getting really good percentages of olive oil from my mill runs.


11/23/13: Reken Estate, Leccino olives, and all others, are now losing water and getting wrinkled:

But still perfectly good and not defective:

With the repeated daily light freeze / dry cycling the olives have lost a significant amount of their water content.  In fact, so much so I have had to reduce the average run size, as the stiff paste is overflowing the mill and olive oil flowing out of and down the side of the maxalation tank:

And on Nov 27 the paste got so thick the centrifuge feed line got blown off its fittings by the paste jamming the lines (that was a messy clean up job).


So, who would have thought, that milling olives in Oregon, the olives and paste would be such a problem for being so dry?!


Nov 25, 2013


Days in the Life of an Oregon Olive Farmer IXc - The Olive Harvest


Those of you who came out on tour may remember standing around this fruit heavy Maurino olive tree; and guessing how many olives were on it:

Guesses ranged widely, my own guess was 3,000.  Bad guess for me.  When the picking was done I had picked over 8,000 olives off of this tree!


These all went into our Tuscan Blend olive oil this year.  Here is a picture showing how ripe the various cultivars were.  Frantoio can be picked relatively green (like these), and undoubtedly added a major portion of the kick to the mix!

Two buckets of Leccino to the left, a bigger bucket of Pendolino to the right.  Notice the color difference in the Leccino: the top bucket was picked mostly from the top of a tree, the bottom was picked mostly from the bottom of the tree.


Definitely riper on the tops of the Leccino trees!


To contact us:

Even smurfs must wear eye protection when picking:

The oldest olive trees we have are getting fairly big - about time to start pruning!


Nov 24, 2013 Reken Estate Leccino olive tree, slightly more than 8' tall now:

Dec 05, 2013


Days in the Life of an Oregon Olive Farmer X - The End of the Season


With clear skies, radiative frosts with temperatures down to about 19 F last night, so ends the olive harvest and season.


All in all, it was a reasonable year here On The Edge of olive growing.  A relatively early spring, a little warmer than usual summer, and a cool fall with an "about normal" end to the season by radiative frosts.


To me, this just reinforces the motive to learn to make and sell green ripe style table olives, as these are the first olives out of the fields.  This year we could have begun picking for this harvest around Oct 5.


Remember that if we are anything, we are more of an Research & Development station with 69 cultivars of olives.  As more and more of these cultivars come into production, we are finding more and more cultivars suitable for an early olive oil harvest.


I didn't pay as much attention as I should, but here is roughly the order of possible harvest for the best of olives for oil harvest:










Santa Caterina








Next year, I plan on paying special attention to the earliest harvest dates possible for a Maturity Index 2.5 (half colored, on the average) olive oil.  Meanwhile, here are some "color samples" from this harvest.


Here is a blend of Leccino and Picual on Nov 29 (our "Dark Horse" field blend) that I would call M.I. 2.5:

Late harvest Amfissa, Kathy's Grove Nov 30, 2013 (note color coordinated picking attire!):

One of the most promising of our "newer" cultivars: Empeltre, Kathy's Grove Nov 30, 2013:

Kalamata, Kathy's Grove Nov 30, 2013:

Bouteillan, Reken Estate Nov 30, 2013:

Verdale, Reken Estate Nov 30, 2013:

Dec 21, 2013


Days in the Life of an Oregon Olive Farmer XII - Reflections


The shortest day of the year here, and the end of this series of posts.  As you should now see, most of the work of having olive trees is associated with the harvest.  Farming is a seasonal thing, and has ever been so.


In fact, a long time ago I ran across this graph:

Dec 17, 2013


Days in the Life of an Oregon Olive Farmer XI - December Winter Storms


The worst of the winter storms here are usually in the first half of December, with the risk of olive tree damaging weather pretty much only in Dec thru early February.  See the "Winter 2009 / 2010 Weather Update", as well as the "Winter 2009 / 2010 Final Damage" Update


                                       December 2009 Storm Update


This years storm was very similar to the 2009 storm mentioned in the above link.  Here is the equivalent weather data from the same source (KMMV McMinnville) for the December 2013 storm:

The patterns look striking similar to me.  So much so I am going to call the storms equivalent, even down to the fact that KMMV reported the low to be 9 F this year, although as in 2009 it couldn't have been for more than a very brief time.


So, since the storms were essentially the same, the olive tree outcomes ought to be pretty similar, barring more severe weather in the next two months.  Unfortunately, there is a bit of complication: the December 2009 storm was actually the second December storm in two years, the first being almost exactly a year earlier.


Well, heya!  You have already seen the combined losses for both winter storms in the above link; you can find the first years losses on this page, see the entry for Nov 18, 2010:




I then revisited the issue again in 2011 to get the cumulative losses, see the entry for Jun 25, 2011:




So, sorry for it to take so long to set up for the 2013 damage projection; but if you want the data from the past, there you have it.  With no further ado:


                          2013 10 F Storm, Olive Tree Loss Projections: Kathy's Grove and Reken Estate


Fall 2013 losses for Fall 2013 planted #2 sized trees: less than 25% losses in the next two years.

Fall 2013 losses for Spring 2013 planted AB46 trees: less than 10% losses in the next two years.

All olive trees planted before 2013: essentially negligible losses.


Of course, the preliminary real results will not be available until June 2014, and I stop measuring the results after June 2015.


Remember, your results can and will be different from mine.


The 2013 olive harvest new oil after several weeks settling.  Note the "sediment" settling in the bottom of the jars:

(From "Archaeology and the Roman Economy", Kevin Greene)  showing the days of labor put in by 74 farmers on the Greek island of Melos, in the 1970's using pretty much hand labor.  I find it very interesting how growing the "Mediterranean triad" spreads the labor around the year.  And, of course, most of the work with olives occurs in fall and winter.


Did I mention I also have some Marechal Foch wine grapes?  And small plots of wheat and barley?  And am teaching myself to be a baker using home ground grain?  Now that we have gallons of olive oil, maybe it's time to go on a Mediterranean Diet!


Also note on average how few days each farmer worked on his crops: at most, less than 9 days a month.  Hmmm…  Ever thought you were working too hard for your daily bread?  And that maybe life could be simpler?


Hmmm indeed!