The decision about olive harvest season varies depending on various conditions. Degree of maturation, fat yield, climatic conditions. So, when olives are harvested to eat, the olives are harvested green from the tree. However to produce oil, the start of the season is delayed, to increase fat yield.
The decision about the beginning of the olive harvest depends on various issues. The climatic conditions of the year, cultivation area, olive variety, type of olive plantation, etc…
Typically, the olive picking season to eat start at the end of September. Before being consumed, remove the bitterness to the olives with water or in caustic soda solution.
In the case of the mill olive, in some areas it can last until May. Although the bulk of the olive harvest for oil production is carried out in November, December and January.
Depending on the collection date, EVOO can be obtained with different characteristics.
The more intense fruity are obtained by olive oils from extra-early harvest. To obtain these oils, olives are usually collected in the month of October and early November.
When harvested before, the fatty yields of the olive are somewhat lower. However, farmers are compensated for performance with better oil prices and the reduction of the olive grove.
Olive harvest season
The most common is to pick up the green olives, Manzanilla Sevillana, Hojiblanca, Gordal olive, Verdial de Badajoz… Some varieties like Negral de Sabiñan or Majatica di Ferrandina black are harvested to passify .
Seasoning olives are picked just before the envero (change color from green to pink / violet). During this phase, the olives turn from intense green to yellowish green and a thin layer of natural wax can be observed on the fruit. It is the ideal time to pick, sweeten and dress some homemade olives.
Normally olive harvest season is centered between end of September and the month of October, harvesting the olives of greater size and commercial value. Although, for the green to be profitable, the olive trees should not have just ripe olives. For personal consumption, green olives can be picked in the months of November and December.
When was the olive picked up in the past?
Formerly olives were collected one by one from the ground, there were no cleaners and olives had to reach the mill without stones.
With this form of collection and the low value given to the quality of olive oil, the olives began to be picked up when a large part was already in the soil, usually in the month of January.
In addition to facilitating the collection of olives, the few means of transport that were available (mules, donkeys…) had to be dedicated to other agricultural work, such as planting of cereal.
Current trend of the olive harvest season
Currently, the olive harvest season is anticipated thanks to the following factors:
1.- Harvesting Mechanism: the use of harvesters, vibrators and olive picking machines, buggies, umbrella… has become widespread. Acceptable oil prices in recent years have helped improve farmer resources, favoring the purchase of agricultural machinery.
2.- Plantation of super high density olive groves and early ripening varieties such as Arbequina.
3.- Various studies show how favorable the early harvest is to regularize olive production.
4.- Consumers are better trained and prefer to buy Extra Virgin olive oil. To obtain quality oils it is necessary to collect the olives from the tree. In addition, many farmers prefer to advance the collection so as not to pick the olives from the soil.
Influence of climatic conditions
The weather conditions can significantly influence the olive harvest. When it rains, the traditional collection with blankets and vibrators is unfeasible. In addition, the use of rods or vareadores with wet olive trees favors the appearance of tuberculosis of the olive tree.
In clay soils, the climate also has a great influence. When it rains, mud forms and for several days you cannot work with heavy machinery (buggies, umbrellas, trunk vibrators…). This can cause significant delays in olive harvesting.
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We have translated the information on our website from Spanish to English. Note that some words may have seen their meaning altered during their translation.