We harvest olive trees throughout California
Harvesting olive trees may begin as early as late August and will continue through November depending upon the region, variety and desired ripeness. They are picked for both eating and processing into oil, so the degree of ripeness is important and a factor in the timing of harvest.
All olives start out green (least ripe) and then gradually become rosy (ripe) and finally turn black (very ripe). Thus, depending upon the type of oil the grower is making, a combination of all three may be used for pressing.
Hand or Mechanical Harvesting
Traditionally, picking olives is done by hand, even in commercial groves. However, more growers are using modern machinery to help them harvest the crop, particularly for the largest orchards. At the simplest level, this may only mean using a long handled, vibrating tong to shake the olives from the branches and onto nets spread out under the tree. For harvesting greater volume, a little more high tech method involves tractors drawing shakers behind them or other grape harvesting machinery used in high density orchards.
Learn more in our How to Harvest Olives article or at Picking Olives – Tips For Harvesting Olive Trees.
View this video from nearby Jordan Winery to learn how olives are manually harvested.
Curing Harvested Olives
Curing olives is essential to the process of making them tasty to enjoy because olives straight off of the tree are very bitter to eat. While there are many different curing methods used around the world, the curing process in California is unique. To learn more about this process, visit From the Farm to the Table.
Canning Harvested Olives
Most cured olives are canned in a mild salt-brine solution, and because they are a low-acid product, they are also heat sterilized under strict California State health rules. In addition, they are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to ensure consistent quality, color, flavor, and texture. Canned olives are offered in a variety of convenient forms including: whole, pitted, sliced, chopped, or wedged.
Milling Harvest Olives for Oil
There are a number of custom crush and milling services companies we work with locally around Sonoma as well as throughout the state for olive oil processing. The California Olive Oil Council offers a number of milling resources to producers. There are also mobile mills providing processing services throughout California.
We can help you with all aspects of harvest, from picking through processing, depending upon your needs. We look forward to helping you with your olives. Read more in our How to Harvest Olives article.
Here are a few images of olives and the harvesting process.