It's that time of year. Every year at about this time we start to get inquiries about olive milling. It is too early to be worrying about harvest and milling but it is hard getting this message to resonate with people very excited about their first or second crop. Like every year, this year I have already heard, "Well last year we started harvesting on October 25th, so we'd like to schedule based on that timing". And, "We'd rather book a time and make sure we have something scheduled than risk not getting a milling time".
There is no way to know at this stage when your crop is going to be ready to harvest.Temperatures and irrigation or that rarity called rainfall can and will dramatically impact when your crop is ready. In addition to the long-term vagaries of the weather and water between now and when you would ideally like to harvest, there will also be short term factors as you approach harvest that can impact your milling date.
For example, you may need to harvest a bit earlier than you would like to due to imminent frost or, as has been the case in the last year, threatening fires. Unfortunately, another consideration for those farming traditionally is that there may be difficulty finding sufficient available labor thereby slowing down your harvest. But you'll have to cross those bridges later.
Expecting your crop to come in on the same date as last year or anywhere close will just lead to time wasted on irrelevant planning both for you and for your miller. For now, for some tips on figuring out when to harvest, take a look at the information from our website on harvest timing. If your enthusiasm about your upcoming crop is simply untamable, start thinking about what you will need to have lined up when the time does come. Our milling checklist can help you out with that.
Last, but not least, listen to your local miller. Millers see vast amounts of fruit year after year. They see all the mistakes people make as well as their successes. Equally important, they are in regular contact with numerous growers in your immediate area and are a great source for relevant information.