2018 Harvest and Milling

Posted by Shawn Addison on

I had visions of writing several posts during milling season documenting the progression of the season, perhaps photos of the same variety of fruit coming in several weeks apart and also giving the differences in yields we saw as this transpired. Then I had hoped to have bucolic photos of our crop coming in on beautiful fall days, harvest crews in the background and so on. The reasons this did not happen are threefold.

First and foremost, milling season didn't really happen this year. As has been pretty well documented in my blog and elsewhere, the crop was extremely light throughout the state due to the weather we had at the end of last winter and early spring. Beautiful weather ran from late January through early March causing many of the trees to bloom only to be followed by two months of very cool wet weather that destroyed the bud break. We will only end up milling a small fraction of our annual average tonnage this season and most of that was fruit for ourselves. As for the photos of the crews, crews wouldn't be plural and you could fit the one crew there was in a four door truck. The custom crush for other orchard owners essentially didn't happen. This year we may have milled 10% of the average amount of fruit we mill for other orchard owners. 

The second reason it didn't happen is that the season was compressed. It doesn't pay for us to mill for a couple hours day after day. Once the mill is fired up, it needs to run for a bit otherwise as much time is spent getting it up and running and then cleaning it as is spent actually milling. As a result, we only milled for a few weeks as opposed to a few months. We did not mill enough fruit of the same varietal over a long enough period of time to give three different ripeness evaluations. 

This compressed schedule is not great for our customers as we mill for orchards spread across about 200 miles of latitude ranging from orchards that overlook the ocean in central California to orchards that are quite a distance inland and much further south. The optimal times for customers spanning such a broad spectrum of microclimates and latitudes does not fall into a window of a few weeks.

The last reason those posts did not happen is that The Olive Oil Source was extremely busy this fall and demanded a lot more of my time than the mill did. Thank you to all of our customers who made it a very good fall. Thank you also to our mill manager and accountant, Jose and Blanca Rivera for handling the milling, scheduling, and paperwork associated with that work. Best wishes for great holidays to everyone who reads this.

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