Frequently Asked Questions

 
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Are the olives we grow green or black?

All olives start out green and darken as they ripen.

 
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How many olives do we get from a tree? 

A mature olive tree will produce around 35-50kg of olives per tree.

 
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How many olives does it take to make a litre of oil?

Rule of thumb is around 7kgs of olives to 1 litre of oil, though some varieties yield more, some less.  

 
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How long is it before a tree starts to produce olives?

Some trees produce olives in their first year.  Once a tree has reached 5 years old it should be producing around 35 – 50 kgs of olives.

 
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Are olives easy to grow?

Yes, they are relatively disease resistant, but they do not like wet feet.  Olives require good drainage or they wilt.  They are very hard to kill, however, and fixing drainage problems around them by digging drains or planting trees that soak up the water will kick start the olive into growth again.

 
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Do we spray the olive trees?

For olive scale we use winter oil, regular applications on infected trees.  This is a petroleum based product and is amongst the oldest organic pesticides posing little risk to the user or the environment.  It is used only when the trees are dormant.

 
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Do we use fertilisers? 

Olive trees need feeding, particularly in Northland where soil quality is poor.  Lime, Serpentine Super and Boron are all hand spread around the trees twice a year.  The Boron helps the tree to fix the flowers and set the fruit and hold it.  Without it, we would lose a quantity of our fruit early in the season.

 
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Why don’t we reticulate? 

Olives don’t like wet feet, they manage well in dry conditions, and a shallow rooting.  Too much water around the roots prevents the soil from hardening and holding the trees when they are blown around in the wind.  In extremely dry conditions the leaves will yellow and fall, but the trees survive and come back the next year just as strong.

 
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What other work is involved in producing olives? 

Pruning directly following harvest, lifting the skirts as foliage grows in springtime to prevent ants and scale, and mowing around the trees are the most time consuming aspects of growing olives.

 
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Do you use machines to pick the olives?  

We do all our picking by hand onto mats, or into aprons.  A mechanical rake is used to pick the olives in the higher parts of the trees.