I've digressed a bit in the last few postings and gotten away from what I had originally intended to cover in my blog. I really wanted to write about some of the day to day elements that differentiate The Olive Oil Source from some of our competitors that are strictly merchants. I think the biggest differentiation is that we actually farm and mill olives. The most basic element of this part of the business is producing fruit and this is the time of year when the crop load is decided.
There has been a lot of coverage of just how bad the crop in California was last year (it is great to be able to use the past tense) and the only good news about that is it usually means a very big crop the next year. This can never be a sure thing, however, as weather can wreak havoc in very little time. The biggest problem for our crop last year was that, just as it was time for our trees to bloom, we had unseasonably cold and wet weather that demolished the blossoms. Right now the trees are forming blossoms and it makes for a very stressful time as we worry what weather is in store for us.
In the 19 years we have been farming olives at our current location, we have never had a bloom forming like the one we have this year. It could be a truly amazing crop year and we will need it as inventories are almost non-existent already. Today I walked the orchard to assess the bloom. It was gorgeous as the orchard and surrounding hills are green, there is lupine, poppies and common Brodiaea everywhere and at 5:00 pm it was still in the high 70's. At this point it looks like the Frantoio and Leccino will lead the way with the biggest bloom followed by Pendolino, Maurino, and Itrana with the Manzanillo and Sevillano trees bringing up the rear. That being said, those Manzanillo and Sevillano trees are loaded. It is too early to tell for our Grappolo trees as they bloom substantially later than the other trees.
With all of the varieties we grow and us farming in three microclimates in our orchard, not to mention varying soil quality in each microclimate, we will experience a broad spectrum of fruit load no matter what, but if nothing else, the bloom should be fantastic. Looking at the extended forecast, there is light rain and no freeze predicted so we're keeping the fingers crossed.
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