Olive Oil Set to Become Key California Crop-Study

Mover over Italy and Spain. Make way for California.

Fall Harvest at California Olive RanchCalifornia’s olive oil industry has been on a tear the past decade, producing extra virgin olive oil rivaling the EVOO made in Italy, Spain, France, and elsewhere. And it appears our industry is positioned to become a heavyweight in the Golden State’s agriculture business.

I’m not the only one predicting this. A recent report from the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis, says “if the trends of recent years continue, olive oil will be a major California crop in the future.”

The UC Davis study offers a snapshot of our industry. It focuses on the method we use to plant our trees: super -high-density plantings. The result: a fresh, high-quality EVOO.

The speed in which we can harvest olives prevents the olive from decomposing before we extract the oil. The UC Davis study examines the super-high-density (SHD) olive industry starting in 1999 – when the first SHD olive trees were planted in California – through 2008. It shows that

  • 12,138 acres of SHD olive trees were planted in California by the end of 2008.
  • Large growers, including California Olive Ranch, accounted for 78% of all acreage planted; small growers followed at 12%; and medium growers accounted for 10%.
  • Arbequina is the No. 1 olive variety planted in the SHD system, accounting for 78 percent of SHD acreage, or 9,400 acres.
  • Arbosana is the No. 2 varietal at 16 percent, or 1,688 acres
  • Koroneiki is No. 3 at 6 percent, or 681 acres

At California Olive Ranch, we have more than 5,000 acres of olive trees in northern California. We cultivate another 5,000 acres through the growers we work with under contract. All told, we have a bit more than 6 million trees under cultivation on some 10,000 acres.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch