It is an interesting time in the orchard right now as we monitor the trees for what we can expect for a crop. The rumor is that the crop may be quite light statewide which is not good news given the rapidly growing popularity of Californian olive oil and the price hikes and shortages we've been seeing the last few years. Usually by this time of year in our orchard, we have had bloom and sometimes even fruit set, although that is pretty rare this early.
This year, the trees seem confused. Many have already bloomed and are starting to set fruit while for others the blossoms are just beginning to form as you can see in these two photos, above and below.
While there are always noticeable inconsistencies in an olive orchard depending on the particular location in the orchard and the variety of the tree, it is very unusual for the spread between the trees annual development to be this large. These trees are only about 100 yards apart.
In our case, the probable reason for this disparity is that we had spectacular weather from the end of January to the beginning of March. Clear sunny days were the norm for week after week with temperatures edging into the low 80s some days, which is pretty unusual for that long a period. We normally might get a week or two of that in January or February but it just went on and on this year. Then we had a cold wet March and cold windy April including snow down to 2,500' and I think it caused chaos in the orchard.
Based on what we are seeing right now, we will probably end up having to do two harvests which is a monumental inconvenience for everyone from the owners to the pickers to the millers. Stick around and we'll see what happens.
Blooms and fruit set