The Olive Harvest Year Two

Farming is unpredictable and for those of you who are interested, you may have heard that the olive oil industry is facing a crisis this year.  The Italian harvest failed apparently, due to an infestation of olive fly.  The rumour here is that the harvest in Andalucia is also significantly down on what it should be.  Our harvest is also a lot less than it was last year.  And the quality is very poor by comparison.

About two thirds of our yield is infected with olive fly.  This doesn't mean that the olives are wasted, they still take them at the mill, but the quality and quantity of oil is not going to be as good.  Most of our olives were ready for picking a month ago.  But we are at the mercy of the mills and until they are ready for the olives no one picks.  While we are waiting the olives fall and begin to foment on the ground.

A week ago we got the word that the harvest was to begin.  We got the nets out but hardly used them, most of the trees were bare with the bulk of the crop on the ground beneath.  We set to with gusto.

This is hard work on hands and knees hand picking in the cold and damp.  A couple of days later and we were able to offload the first trailer full at the Cooperative.  250kg.

The days are starting  out damp and misty and very cold.  By later in the day the sun is out but its too late, fingers are already wet and clothes damp making the whole experience a bit gloomy.  This morning we heard the eerie call of the Grullas (Grey Crane) flying above us in the mist but we couldn't see them.

Because most of the olives are already on the ground, the tool of the day is the rake.  And its really hard work trying to tease the fallen olives out of the long grass.  Above Jane models the latest in olive picking wear!  After a few hours work in that lot you get very warm... but as soon as you take anything off, you get very cold.

The trees where we had cut the grass really short appeared not to have hardly any olives on them this year.  Hey ho.  Its all a giant learning curve.  There are only so many hours in the day and 200 olive trees is a lot to get around.  Its a bit like painting the Forth Road Bridge... as you get to the end you have start again at the beginning!

Our little supervisor is well cosy with his jumper and a blanket.  In fact when we finished and set off home he wouldn't come.  We had to down tools and go back and make him come with us.

Here Steve is taking the suckers off the base of a tree before we can put nets down.

My camera wasn't good enough to show the little beads of moisture on this impressive spiders web, when the sun shone through the mist it glinted like diamonds.  Alas we don't have so much time to enjoy it when there are still olives to be gathered in.

Anyway... the upshot is that you may well be paying more for your olive oil next year.  Considering the amount of work involved in producing it, I can assure you, its still very cheap for what it is.


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