Olive harvest 2015

I have 17 olive trees (of 12 different varieties), most of which have been planted in spring 2014 and a few in winter–spring 2015. All the trees grew quite well this summer, especially after we put them on dripping irrigation in June.

This fall, I had my first olive harvest, with largest bounty coming from Leccino and Arbequina trees (both of these varieties are known for being quite precocious and productive). I was also quite impressed by a Hass Improved Manzanillo tree, which in its first year in the ground produced a bunch of very large beautiful olives. A big disappointment was that a tree bought from the Rolling River nursery as Amphissa (a common Greek variety but quite rare in the U.S.) turned out to be Arbosana (which is nowadays very common in California and can be bought in almost any big box store).

Two bowls of Leccino olives:

Arbequina on the left and Hass Improved Manzanillo on the right:

Overall, I got five one-gallon jars and one two-gallon jar of olives in brine. I use a basic curing-in-brine preparation method which is very simple but takes three to four months until olives are ready to be eaten.

The biggest issue I have with growing the olives is a significant damage from olive fruit flies (they destroyed from 1/4 to 1/3 of the total harvest). Because of this damage, I had to sort all olives by hand, which took a lot of time and will become unfeasible when harvests get bigger in coming years. The fly activity was somewhat suppressed by 100–degree heat waves we had during the summer and well into September, but the flies made up for it when the weather cooled down in October. This also forced me to harvest most of the varieties earlier than I would prefer. I did try to contain the flies using bottles of Torula yeast solution baits, but earlier and more frequent applications were probably needed.


Living in the NE has is drawbacks, and your olives are a great illustration of that fact. Wow!!! They are beautiful. Will you post another pick after they are brined and in jars? Thanks (fantastic to see them!).

Wow, nice! I love olives, no way to grow them here. Which is probably a good thing for me. I have to limit intake of salt! Since brine is needed to cure, I can only eat them occasionally. Still nice to see photos and such. Cool plants!

Thanks! I will post a pic after the olives are brined. They probably will be ready in February.

Thanks! I use a strong brine for curing, but if you keep olives in fresh water for a day before eating them, most of the salt is washed away.

Olive trees are beautiful, especially when they are older. Mine are still very young and small, but they grow reasonably fast when adequately irrigated.

Don’t they live, like forever?

Yes, they do. What I tried to say is that young trees do not look as regal as they will in 20 years. When trees mature, the growth becomes much slower.

Wow, just beautiful, Stan. I just bought 2 Nocellara del Belice trees and one Pendolino (as a cross pollinator, but a very nice olive in its own right). I am looking forward to some incredibly delicious green Scilian olives in a couple of years. Do keep posting about your olive trees, very interested in hearing how they fare for you!

Good to know! I have been wary after a friend was hospitalized from eating a jar of olives. He never could control himself, he passed a couple years ago at age 47. I miss him a lot, I’m still not over it.

I have one Pendolino tree for pollination; it bloomed but did not fruit yet this year. Cured Pendolino olives are sold at Trader Joe’s, and I like a lot how the olives taste, although they use citric acid as a preservative, which impairs the taste in my opinion. I have three more spaces designated for olive trees and have been contemplating which varieties I want to add. Just few days ago I decided I want at least one Nocellara del Belice tree, but they were out of stock at groworganic.com (I did not see them offered at other online sellers). I also would like to add Lucques (descriptions I found highly prize its taste). Other possible additions include Barouni (also out of stock at groworganic.com), Amphissa and Itrana if I will be able to find a reliable source to buy a tree. Santa Cruz Olive Tree Nursery has a lot of varieties, but unfortunately they are a wholesale nursery with a minimum order of 20 trees.

That’s a sad story Drew. I like cured olives a lot, but I use them mostly as a condiment, similarly to pickles, to complement a main dish. My wife dislikes any food with too much salt in it, so we use the water soaking approach to make olives more palatable to her.

Yeah sorry about the negative story, it just reminded me of the incident. He had Thalassemia, and should have died at 15 years old, so his story is one of never giving up! He seized the day and put my own problems in perspective. he needed a blood transfusion every 3 weeks. This happened his whole life.
Anyway thanks for the info, I can now consume more olives, which I love!
The olive and some nut trees are awesome as they are so long lived. Often all of us here are growing mostly short-lived trees and shrubs. Unlike nut trees the Olive bears fairly early in it’s life, another plus to this tree!
I was thinking that maybe you could actually press olives too for oil, say the damaged ones. I consume olive oil almost daily. I also like to use grape seed oil as you can saute at higher temps with it. I guess probably expensive to make your own oil. I see a day though when you’re going to have ton’s of them!

I’m thinking about making my own olive oil in the future when harvests increase. A small autonomous oil-milling machine costs 3 to 5 thousand dollars, which is probably more than all olive oil I will consume in my lifetime will cost. Another option is to take your olives to somebody else’s mill, which is an existing service in California. However, fruits damaged by olive fruit fly rapidly develop rot in cavities gnawed by larvae and thus are unsuitable for oil production.

Stan, you might want to try my source for Nocellara del Belice. One
of our list members found the source for me (Clint). It is The olive
is marketed as Castelvetrano. They are big, bright green Sicilian
olives that have a sweet, nutty taste. They are out of this world. I
bought some at my local Stater Bros. store, in their Deli section. You
can’t mistake them as they are large, roundish, and very bright green

Nice to see some olive love!

@Stan, your harvest looks great. I found less damage to my olives if I harvest at green ripe stage. The longer they sit on the tree, the longer they are subject to various attacks. I like the crunch, texture, and flavor of green ripe as well.

I can’t pass by an olive bar in any market without picking up some ‘Castelvetrano’ olives. They are truly a cut above.

Check out this thread for growing and processing olives:

For acquiring trees and eating olives:

Patty and Clint, thank you very much for the link to txovsupply.com; it seems like a good source for many olive varieties. At the moment they are mostly sold out of everything except trees in 3 gallon pots, which is not an optimal size (I prefer younger trees as they grow much faster in the ground, not to mention are less expensive). Anyway, perhaps I will go with what they have currently.

I personally prefer fully ripe black olives for most (but not all) varieties. Probably I should have harvested Arbequina and Arbosana olives earlier (in the green ripe stage). However, I would prefer to have a chance to harvest Leccino, Frantoio and Kalamata olives at a later stage (the interior part of the fruit was still mostly whitish when I removed them from the tree).

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An update on processing my olive harvest. The olives were pickled in a simple brine for about four months (the brine was changed once). Here is the result after I put about one half of the total bounty into jars:

Left to right are: Arbequina (2 jars), Arbosana, Leccino, Hass Improved Manzanillo (2 jars). I keep the jars in the fridge (took them out of the fridge for the photo).


Stan, very lovely! I went out and checked on my two Nocerella del Belice olive trees and my Pendolino. they are growing nicely, and are actually starting to bloom. They’re pretty small still, so doubt I’ll get any fruit set, but really looking forward to brining or curing both varieites, especially the Nocellara. I will be tapping your and Clint’s brains on how to brine or cure when I have a large enough crop.

Patty S.

Patty, a small crop is a good way to get started.

Well, I’ll watch my little trees to see if they set any fruit, then, Clint. I just love the olives from NdB, so really looking forward to nutty green olives, yum!

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