Oregon Olives 

Think global - buy local.

Oregon Olives

Oregon Olive Oil

Oregon Olive Trees

2014 @ Oregon Olives

July 14, 2014


How many total olive trees have we planted, and how many have survived?


Well, heck, I've wanted to know that answer myself!  So, I put together the list, by cultivar, and here it is (most of it):


To contact us:

Adding in 45 more trees we recently planted, means we have about 621 trees in the ground right now.


Note in the above chart, that we do not get to a statistically interesting sample size until we reach Carolea.  So, if one were to try to wrestle me to the ground and pin me, I might say I think Carolea is the tree most adapted to surviving in NW Oregon.  But as all farmers know, there is no one perfect cultivar (of anything).  Carolea seems to have a slightly bigger problem with peacock spot than do other olive trees.


Peacock spot to this level, doesn't really bother me (much better than a dead tree!); but there are palliative measures for it (spraying) if it bothers you.  Unfortunately, the worst problem is there are no Carolea available commercially in the whole U.S. that I can find.  We intend to start propagation from our mother trees next year.


July 11, 2014, Reken Estate Carolea olive trees:

If you look close at the first tree you can see some yellow leaves.  This year's leaves are a brighter lime green, last years leaves are a darker green, and the leaves with peacock spot formed the year previous to that (2012).  Those leaves are naturally turning yellow and dropping, but one can see (brown dots) that there is indeed some level of peacock spot present.


Now, my friend Pollyanna says: "Phish, you can just see those leaves on Carolea because the other cultivars had the old leaves knocked off by the winter cold!".  And she would most certainly have a point.  On the other hand, some people want to live in a "perfect world" and hate to see spots.

July 15, 2014


How are the Arbequina / Super High Density groves doing?


So, you have the data on how our olive groves are doing.  What about other groves in Oregon, how have they done?  With one exception, besides ours, all of the bigger groves that have been put in are SHD, with the only reasonable cultivar being Arbequina.


Hoyal Farms in Jacksonville put in what was the biggest olive tree grove to date in Oregon, estimated at 88,000 SHD olive trees.  With an additional replant of 10,000 trees, they put in nigh on 100,000 olive trees.  Sadly, most if not all of those trees are now dead.  That's the record for killing olive trees in Oregon, that I hope will stand for a long, long time.


The Fine Folks in the Dundee Hills are far too modest.  They claim to have planted 13,000 olive trees.  But what they really have done is planted the 13,000, done a pretty much 100% replant of the main grove (10,000 trees), and done yet another pretty much 100% replant of that same grove (and they did at least one partial replant in there too).  Last time I looked, it looked like most are all dead, leaving them in the #2 spot for having killed at least 30,000 olive trees.  Without producing any appreciable olive oil.  Which is why they bring up olives from California to mill to make almost all of their olive oil...


Most all other SHD groves are also dead, with their websites derelict or and abandoned.  The only SHD grove which has had much of any output is The River Ranch down near Roseburg. 


In fact, last year's River Ranch harvest was the biggest yet in Oregon.  According to the article linked to immediately above, they picked 4,470 pounds of olives in 2013.  And produced about 180 liters of sellable product.  Doing the conversions, this is about 166 kg of oil from 2,031 kg of olives, or a yield of about 12% w/w.  And with 7,000 trees planted almost 4 years ago according to the article, less than a third of a kilo yield per tree: this is totally non-competitive with the yields of the California Arbequina groves.  Or else there really aren't 7,000 olive trees there any more.  Hmmm...


So, as far as we are concerned, Arbequina / SHD in Oregon has already peaked, and we don't expect any more large SHD groves to go in.  However, time will tell on that!  Meanwhile, if you really want to try 100% grown in Oregon olive oil, the River Ranch Storefront would appear to be the best place to get some.

Aug 08, 2014


Waiter, bring me more water (ca2014)!


Hot and dry here, and the olive trees are mostly loving every minute of it.  We have lost a few nursery trees to dehydration.  We decided not to repot our young trees this year, so they are relatively large for their pot size.  Our watering cycle is once every two days in the hot and the dry; if you miss even one watering cycle, they die.  See picture to the right of a dead Ascolana.


As for the trees in the ground in the orchard, the question of whether to water or not is more complex.  In general, the trees are spaced far enough apart, and are young enough, to not require irrigation.  And since we had a fair amount of cold damage last winter, it looks like this will be an "off" year in so far a fruit yield goes.  Correspondingly, it will be an "on" year for tree growth.  And so, we have decided to not even think about watering this year, as there is the risk of aiding the onset of alternate bearing.  The olives should size up pretty well regardless, as there are fewer of them.

Related to watering and tree growth, we also decided not to fertilize the grove this year (beyond what was provided by the winter cover crops).


We are fertigating the olive trees in pots again, with our third "proportionate mixer".  While I was no happy with the first two we had, this one looks to be a really nice unit, a Chemilizer HN55 1:100 Fixed Ratio Injector (and see picture below).  For the nursery plants, I mix up a batch of liquid fertilizer (5 gallon bucket to the right), and then the injector mixes it into the water line at a ratio of 1:100, such that I end up with about a teaspoon of fertilizer for each gallon of water supplied.


There are other equivalent other brands / units out here that should do the job just as well, but this one works for me!

Aug 08, 2014




Most email I get is pretty much the same-ol, same-old, as is to be expected after doing this for about 10 years now (halfway through my "20 Year Plan"!).  Every once in a while, I do get one that I really don't know how to answer; knowing that any answer is just going to be a waste of time.  But answer I must, as every one is being asked by a real live person who has put out the effort to ask it…


Here is an example in purple, complete with my responses in blue:


Hello David,


Hi *******,


See answers to your questions in this color.


I am interested in purchasing olive trees as soon as possible but would appreciate if a few questions could be answered first.


What methods are used in growing these olive trees?


Ahhhh... normal ones?  Yes!  Normal ones.


Are there synthetic fertilizers




or pesticides


Possibly; but not by us.


used in the upbringing of the trees?


That would mean "used in the growing of the trees", right?  If so, see answers above.


Are the trees grown from cuttings




or seed?


Never.  All reputable olive trees are clonal selections, e.g. grown from cuttings.  A few are grafted, but the preceding statement is still true (i.e. the rootstocks are cuttings of another different clone). 


Also, are there certain varieties that absolutely need pollinators?


Ahhh, yet another interesting phrasing of the question.  The direct answer is that of course no varieties absolutely need pollinators.  No olive tree I am aware of will curl up and die if it is not pollinated. 


Thank you,



Have you ever seen the "chicken episode" of Portlandia?  If you are easy going you will love it...


So, I'm thinking I have not helped you much.  Perhaps if you tell me why you are asking these questions, I can figure out less literal answers that may help you more?


Best regards,

David Lawrence

Aug 20, 2014


Hot Summer nights


I'm one of those people who like cool night time weather.  Lately it has seemed like we have had a lot of sweaty hot nights.  So, I noodled around with Google, and indeed we have been having record hot temperatures here in the Pacific North West! According to NOAA, this is due to the record high nighttime lows, and not to higher daytime temperatures.


A sign of anthropogenic global warming is that the night time temperatures increase.  The theory also says that not all places will get warmer at the same rate.  Ever wonder where the places in the U.S. are that are getting warmer the fastest?  Well, this summer it has been mainly the PNW:

Yet another reason to think that zones of cultivation are relatively rapidly shifting northward, especially along the coasts, and that olive trees are here in Oregon to stay!

Oct. 05, 2014


The grapes are gone, now it's the olive time of year!


The grapes on this hill have all been picked in the past two weeks, we have had such beautiful weather there aren't even any discarded diseased cull grapes on the ground.


The fall has been so dry this year that I went ahead and dusted in the cover crop.  This year's seed blend: ~45% HyOctane winter triticale, 20% Walken oats, 10% fava beans, 10% Austrian winter peas, 5% tetraploid annual rye grass, 5% crimson clover and 5% common vetch.


And today is the start of the olive harvest!  First up was an Amfissa tree, eight years in the ground that yielded 21 pounds of olives - a new record high single olive tree yield for Oregon!


Reken Estate, Oct 05 2014: "Picker3" at work picking an Amfissa olive tree.

This tree was just dripping with fruit; definitely an example of an "on" year.  This is especially interesting since it comes after a very harsh winter that limited fruiting on other cultivars, but not Amfissa.  The fruit have already been sorted and put into curing for "green ripe" style table olives; they should be ready to eat within the week.

Nov 1, 2014


Hot Summer After Cold Winter


I am pretty sure this past summer set a record for the hottest one in recent local history.  Using corn growing degree days as a measure and looking at the average mean temperature for the past decade tells the story:


Weather Station:  KMMV McMinnville Airport


Apr 1 - Oct 31  GDD base 50 F   Average Mean Temp      

2014               2774              63 F

2013               2330              61

2012               2242              61

2011               2001              59

2010               1788              58

2009               2121              60

2008               1986              59

2007               2059              60

2006               2363              61

2005               2141              60

2004               2318              61


You might well ask - why was 2010 so cold?  Coincidentally or not, from Mar 29 - June 23 of that year, you may recall the Iceland volcano Eyjafjallajökull was erupting, spewing sun blocking (and airplane engine clogging) ash.


And while we are at it, here are the minimum temperatures for recent winters.



July 1 - June 30      Minimum   Rainfall

2013 - 2014              9 F      32 "

2012 - 2013             23        32

2011 - 2012             24        41

2010 - 2011             19        44

2009 - 2010              7        31

2008 - 2009             11        18

2007 - 2008             23        35

2006 - 2007             21        36

2005 - 2006             22        37

2004 - 2005             23        26


So, a hotter summer and still a cold winter event or two.  Temperatures getting more extreme, but on the average warmer.  Hmmm, where have I heard something about that?  Global Warming?  Nah, seems everyone is in denial of global warming…


But look at these monster tomatoes, grown by Karl Reken, summer of 2014:

Oct. 12, 2014


Planted garlic


Although I have planted dozens of different garlic cultivars in the past, this year I stuck to my favorite dozen:


Cascade Rose

Georgian Crystal

Georgian Fire


Killarney Red

Korean Mountain



Polish Hardneck

Romanian Red


Spanish Roja


Many people consider Spanish Roja to be the best tasting garlic, but we like all of these.

Oct. 23, 2014


Green ripe olive pickles


The green ripe olive harvest is over, and all have been made into 12 gallons of pickles of one sort or another.  I followed the Green Ripe Style Cure; then canned them with a brine-vinegar solution and various seasonings:



                                                    Chili Garlic







                                                    Lemon wedges



We started picking on Oct 5 when the olives were still very green and hard, and finished on Oct 17 when the olives were starting to get a little soft when squeezed.  As of now they are a little too soft for lye based cures, and too hard to think of starting to make olive oil.


This year so far we have only picked Amfissa olives, and all are off of about 5 trees that have been in the ground 7 or 8 years.  The olives were large, plentiful and fun to pick!

Nov 02, 2014


100% Oregon Olive Oil 100% Oregon Estate Grown and Milled Single Varietal

          - Maurino


I didn't much like Maurino the first couple of harvest we had.  Lots of shot berries and some sort of skin speckle disease on the olives.  But both problems seem to have gone away.  And since they can set full crop loads after a harsh winter, and since they are the first cultivar to get soft and smushy, we decided to try milling a run of them as early as we have ever milled olives (today!).  In spite of the fact that these olives were our ripest and most color advanced, the paste was very watery and the resulting oil scant.  So, too much recent rain and too early of a harvest led to rather poor results: a yield of about 3% w/w.


Especially if you intend to plant olive trees and make olive oil in Oregon, don't be fooled by those fine and funky folk in the Dundee Hills.  No Oregon grown olives were ready to be milled this October.  So what were they doing?  As is normal for them: trucking up California grown olives and trying to pass off the resultant olive oil as a product of Oregon.


11/02/14 Reken Estate; yesterdays hand picked Maurino olives in the olive mill's hopper, ready for milling:

Nov 11, 2014


100% Oregon Olive Oil 100% Oregon Estate Grown and Milled Single Varietals


It looks to me as though the "real" Oregon olive oil milling season has started!  The coloration, smushy-ness and yields have all reached a point where we are going to mill as much as we can when we can (though, of course, a week of wet stormy weather is predicted…).


If an oil yield of 10% is deemed sufficient to start milling in volume, we reached that yield point last year around Nov 25 (see Jan 2014 Olive oil yields in Oregon).  This year, these Leccinos yielded almost that much, putting us about a little less than two weeks ahead of last year.


11/11/14 Kathy's Grove, Leccino olives picked yesterday and milled today; olive oil yield ~9 1/2% w/w:

11/09/14 Kathy's Grove, Maurino olives picked 11/09/14 and milled 11/09/14; olive oil yield ~8 1/2% w/w:

11/08/14 Reken Estate, Arbequina olives picked 11/08/14 and milled 11/08/14; olive oil yield ~7% w/w: