The Road to Harvest, Episode 1: Olive Blossom
BY FRANCESCA VAN SOEST MAY 8th 2020
Wow, it's hard to believe that it is already time to start thinking about olive harvest again! It feels like just yesterday that we had our last load pass through the processing plant and took our last shot of the freshest oil on earth. But that is how it goes in agriculture! When you not only have to make the oil but also grow the olives, your "season" becomes a year-round process of growing and cultivating.
Because of this, and because we are fiercely proud to be a vertically integrated agriculture company and brand, we thought we could bring you along for the journey with us with the destination being harvest 2020. To chronicle this journey we will take you into our groves at all the major milestones the trees go through in preparation for harvest time. We will follow the Technical team around and do interviews with our farm managers and workers who spend every single day out in the groves with the trees. We hope that you enjoy the ride with us and we can't wait to show you all the unique ways that Cobram Estate gets ready for harvest, so buckle up and get ready for Episode 1: Olive Blossom.
For us, the olive blossom is one of the most exciting times of the year. We love it because, after 4 months of being dormant, the olive trees start waking up and showing signs of life. On top of that, olive trees are wind-pollinated, not bee-pollinated, which means that they need to sprout an extraordinarily large amount of blossoms in order to create the "pollen cloud" that allows the flowers to become pollinated. What this means is that our groves transform from being a forest of silvery green foliage to a sea of fluffy yellow and white blossoms. It is truly a sight to see.
This is also our first look into what the crop projection is looking like for the year. It's pretty simple, the more tree flowers, the more chances there are of more fruit which means the better the harvest. To better quantify this, the Technical team will go out and inspect an entire grove to come up with a crop estimate for the upcoming harvest. To see this in action, I hoped in with Collin, a member of our Field and Technical team and just all-around great co-worker, and followed him through a crop projection analysis.
This is Collin! Thanks for letting me follow you around!
Essentially, to establish the crop estimate you have to look at a lot of trees. To do this in a time-efficient manner, we drove up and down the rows and scored the flower coverage of the trees as an average. Once you have driven around enough and had a good representation of the grove, you can take the average score, and then we have developed an equation that will translate that into a crop estimate.
Once you have driven around, it is also important to get out and take a closer look at the quality of the flowers. you want to look for things like the density of the flowers and if they are too dry.
This helps us determine the health of the flowers and the likelihood of their rate of pollination.
And that is pretty much that! It takes us a good 2 weeks each May to go around to all the groves and do our flowering assessments, but then all we can do is wait and see how the fruit sets in June, where we will do another round of assessments and update the crop projection.
Thank you so much for coming along with us on our first episode of The Road to Harvest! We cannot wait to show you more and hopefully get you as excited as we all get about the upcoming harvest season, which is undoubtedly the most wonderful time of the year in Yolo County!