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Olive Orchard

 
Darnell Brawner
Posts: 26
Location: Hilton Head Island SC
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I'm interested in planting a 1-5acre olive grove on some family land in (Clyo GA USA, zone .
Wanting to stay perm:
Can you grow quailty oil/edible olives from seed? (pros/cons)
Does anyone know of some good guilds with olive being the primary over story.
Since the area is dry, it sits on a very high bluff above the savannah river i was thinking of taking a scoop with a backhoe where the trees will go and doing an in ground hugelkultur with a small stump,brush, brewery waste and rock powder. So the trees will have a good pocket of nutrients and water for decades.

The problem is all the modern olive oil producers have moved to the "Super High Density" model. Its a heavy monoculture that requires drip irrigation, synthetic fertilizer, and is ugly. Only three cultivars of olives can be grown like this.

I want to sustainably grow the highest quality olives that my climate allows not the highest quantity.
 
John Elliott
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Olives don't really do well here in GA. I've looked and looked to see if anyone has tried growing them, but I haven't seen any. Two reasons why: (1) our summers are too wet for them; they are Mediterranean plants and are adapted to a climate with dry summers and wet winters. Too much rain and humidity in the summer and they are going to get attacked by fungi and rot. (2) our winters have too many cold snaps for them to survive -- like Monday and Tuesday. They can take temps down into the 20s, so yes, they are zone 9 plants, but you get one dip down to 12F, and you'll be hacking it back down to the stump and seeing if it can coppice back (which olives are capable of doing).

But if instead of a high bluff overlooking the river, you put it next to the south wall of a building, one with an overhang that keeps the summer rains from drenching it, then maybe you would have a chance. Putting it on a south wall might also be adequate winter protection. The overhang would not have to be that high, you can keep an olive tree pruned so it is only 10'-15' tall and get a lot of olives off of it. I really miss not having olive trees in my move from California to Georgia, but there are things here that make up for it.

Edited to add: Olives are usually not grown from seed but from propagating some of the numerous suckers off the base of a mature tree.
 
Darnell Brawner
Posts: 26
Location: Hilton Head Island SC
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http://georgiaolivefarms.com
These guys are taking a crack at it.
But they are doing the SHD method.

The area I am looking to plant has a very interesting micro climate.
Because of the high bluff and on the other side its very load there is almost always a cool breeze coming from the river side that makes things feel cooler and feels less humid.
The area is much drier than the surrounding farms because its the highest point with sandy soil.
Ive seen pear cactus growing wild on this land. My Dad tried for years to grow all kinds of flowers on the 20 acres thats cleared with only having success with things like Ratibida columnifera (mexican hat) and California poppies.
With the crazy cold weather the area got down to 16F but there are many olives that can take colder.
Its a bit of a long shot but starting small with a 10 trees and then expanding should cost me too much.

 
John Elliott
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Well, if that microclimate supports California poppies and prickly pears, then maybe you have a good shot at success. I've tried prickly pear and poppy up here in Augusta, and the poppies were a failure and the prickly pear is just barely hanging in there.

If you get 10 trees started, then in a couple of years you will have suckers galore that you can use to propagate and expand. That is, if they like the microclimate. Have you got your variety picked out? Where are you getting your trees from?
 
Darnell Brawner
Posts: 26
Location: Hilton Head Island SC
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No thats where I'm a little stumped.
All i know is it will have to be a cold hardy tree. I don't have experence with the differences between fruit, spicy, pungent, etc olive oil.
My wife for last xmas adopted an olive tree from Italy where you get all the oils from that tree.
It's AMAZING, bright in color with grassy notes and a spicy finish. I use it as a finishing oil when I'm cooking italian.
I'm tempted to use what the georgiaolivefarms.com use but the major reason they use those three varieties is they are the only ones that can be grown "SHD".
No idea on supplier yet will probably order from TX or CA.
For eating olives my wife wants the small french kind you see at whole foods or fresh market.
I might end up getting a mix and seeing what shakes out.
 
John Elliott
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Pretty much anything you order from California is going to be adapted to zone 9. Olives are fairly cold hardy down to about 15F, then below that they really begin to show damage.

Have you checked with UCDavis to see what they might recommend? That's the big ag school out in California, and they know a lot about olives. Here is a planting guide with some contact information on it that you may want to follow up.

With olives, it's not just about the variety. The way the variety is handled after picking has a lot to do with the finished result -- how they were cured, how they were pressed. If you have a good curing recipe, it can make just ordinary olives taste fantastic.
 
Darnell Brawner
Posts: 26
Location: Hilton Head Island SC
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Thanks for the resource I just ordered Organic Olive Production Manual.
I think ill take it slow and buy 10 trees of a handful of different cultivars and just see what works best.

The table and oil producing part is stage two. Since the trees give me a few years of research time to compare cold press vs centrifuge, picking early vs mid vs ripe, etc.
 
Kim Feehery
Posts: 2
Location: Houston, Texas
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I ran into this thread and am wondering how your olive orchard is shaping up. What varieties of olives did you choose? I just planted 190 olives north of Houston and have since begun learning about incorporating permaculture concepts into my design. Facinating stuff!
 
Darnell Brawner
Posts: 26
Location: Hilton Head Island SC
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Well the land stayed tide up in a legal mess but this month all that finally gets settled.
I've found a guy on the Island I'm living on that started growing olives here a few years ago. I'm going to find the cultivar that he is growing.
He said he harvested about 20lbs from one young tree last year.
I'm going to try a few times and see what happens.
 
Kim Feehery
Posts: 2
Location: Houston, Texas
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I didn't want the SHD method but am opting for naturalizing the olives. The primary 3 are Itrana (Italian), Salonenque (French and I found fussy) and Chemlali (Tunisian). The ones which were 2 gallon has the best summer growth. Next time I will opt for the 2 gallon to get off and running easier. Good luck! We're having a blast with this new venture and all I'm learning!
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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There are quite a few Russian cultivar, that will even grow on Canada west coast.
Check out these guys: https://www.onegreenworld.com/Olive/BlackPearl8482/4222/
 
Rez Zircon
Posts: 86
Location: Brendansport, Sagitta IV
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Darnell Brawner wrote:
With the crazy cold weather the area got down to 16F but there are many olives that can take colder.
Its a bit of a long shot but starting small with a 10 trees and then expanding should cost me too much.



There is an abandoned olive orchard in the desert near Lancaster CA that is still thriving despite that the area regularly sees temperatures down to zero (every night for most of January) and occasionally as low as -10F. (It also hasn't been watered in at least 25 years, and some trees have been cut down but came right back.) Well, at least the trees are thriving as trees; I've never seen it bloom or bear fruit, and there don't appear to be any volunteer seedlings.

Not encouraging from a fruit standpoint, but hardiness? they're not bothered by -10F in the least. I'd guess they could handle a good deal colder.

Incidentally the area can get as little as one inch of precip per year, but what rain does come tends to get trapped by the calici layer, so if you dig down a few feet the dirt is usually damp.
 
Did you see how Paul cut 87% off of his electric heat bill with 82 watts of micro heaters?
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