Olive Oil Harvesting – Picking

19

Saturday 06 December, 2014 by Uncle Spike

In part one of this post, we looked at the harvest season and preparing to pick olives for oil production. 

Moving on to the trees, I tend to fully strip each one in turn, as partial picking involves repetition of floor clearing etc, so is just not effective use of my time. I first ‘do the floor’, working in from the outside towards the trunk, working in zones to ensure nothing is missed. For some trees we can be talking about an area 40-50 square metres (430-540 sq ft) surrounded by long tuft grass, so it can be a fairly laborious and slow job, especially after heavy rains.

.

DSCF0806_blog

.

I then immediately lay out thick polythene (greenhouse ’12 month’ grade) sheeting around the tree. I use a single 6m x 6m (20′ x 20′) piece, with a single split to the centre point, so the tree trunk is the dead centre. I then use a separate 2m x 4m (6’6″ x 13′) piece which I move around the perimeter as necessary, depending on the overhang of the branches.

.

DSCF1061_blog

.

Next I bring over my two homemade galvanised box steel triangle ladders, which have a single supporting pole, so we get a tripod effect which is excellent for the very rocky and uneven ground, often balancing on rock strewn sloping hillsides etc. The larger one is 3.7m (12′) tall, so I geed a decent view up there too 🙂

.

DSCF0810_blog

.

When picking for table olives, that is done carefully, slowly, and only by hand; gently removing the fruit and placing carefully in tubs, so as to not bruise them. However, for oil production, the vast bulk of the crop that is, there is simply no need for such care, as ultimately all will be crushed at the factory anyway!

To strip a tree, I head to the very top of the ladders, and use a 2m pole with a special olive-picking ‘comb’ attached. It’s not always practical, so often its a case of stripping the fruit by hand. Starting at the bottom of the tree never works by the way, as once the fruit is removed, the branch moves ‘up’, hiding the next branch full of fruit. So I always start from the top, and as each cleared branch rises, the next is clear to see beneath and easier to pick from (learned that during a slow year one on the farm).

.

DSCF0942_blog

.

The comb is a great help, as some branches can be very high up, or may be out of safe reach and there is no point in risking your life for 2 measly olives, believe me. I spent some days sampling hospital food a few years back, after a brain bleed following a backward fall from just 3 metres (10 feet) on to rocks when a large branch of a clementine tree gave way during fruit picking season – not nice.

.

DSCF0811_blog

.

DSCF0943_blog

.

Using the comb is quick and efficient, although it also rakes out many small branches, loads of leaves, even the odd birds nest too. It’s messy and dusty work, but far quicker than the ‘pole hitting’ method, especially considering that I work alone and would then spend three days trying to find them!

.

DSCF0812_blog

.

Not always alone of course… small person lends a hand at weekends; well perhaps for an hour...

.

IMG_20141025_151642_blog

.

I then move around the tree, top to bottom, top to bottom, until it is totally clear. My method may be labour intensive, but I can virtually guarantee a 100% harvest capture, compared to the inefficiencies of hitting with a big stick, then trying to find the darned olives. The comb can be used directionally after some practise, so even those fruit overhanging a river can mostly be recovered by pulling towards the bank in a quick sharp pull.

Next is the slow but relaxing part, sat on the floor removing all the branches leaves and other fallen stuff that needs separating from the olives. That can take some time, but is easy work.

.

DSCF0815_blog

.

If I’m working on a heavily loaded tree, and can’t get finished before school-run time, I’ll just load the haul into tubs, and then sit in the back room late at night sorting them. Often this goes on till midnight. Here’s an old shot of said process 🙂

.

20121222_185036_blog

.

Once clean, the olives are taken off to add to the ever-growing pile of olives that will eventually head to the factory for oil.

.

DSCF1099_blog

.

Whilst the olives are oily if you squash them, and the branches and leaves burn like crazy on a bonfire, your hands actually get as dry as a paper bag during picking season, so Uncle Neutrogena comes to my rescue of an evening. Picking or sorting olives with split fingers is no fun, and sadly, I know that all too well. I tried gloves, but that really didn’t work – you need to be able to feel the fruit between your fingers, as it’s not all working by comb on a sick, I can tell you.

But it’s also a hell of a workout. Yes, I still do my 6am exercises, either 550, 650, or 750 depending on my rota, but olive picking, carrying and climbing the heavy ladders, and regularly climbing high up inside the trees themselves is also great exercise, and uses many different muscles; mostly ones I never knew existed of course. All in all, a good workout season too 🙂

.

Part three will go on to show you the oil production…

.

19 thoughts on “Olive Oil Harvesting – Picking

  1. […] on from the olive harvest and the trips to the oil factory, all the sacks had to be cleaned off, inside and out, as the […]

    Like

  2. LB says:

    Your posts are great for making us appeciate the work behind the food we put on our table.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lulu says:

    The things we learn about each other in this blog world are fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing, Spike. This brings back great memories of a trip to Tuscany years ago, where my (then very young) son was able to help out with olive harvesting for an hour. It was fun to watch, but reading your post makes me realize what hard work it was for everyone else.

    Like

  5. Sue Slaght says:

    Oh my goodness Spike I like Yvonne was stunned to hear of your fall and brain bleed. How terrifying. I hope you made a full recovery.
    The olive harvest looks very intense but what a wonderful product in the end.

    Like

  6. Yvonne says:

    My blood ran cold when I read about your past fall and subsequent bleed into the brain. You don’t have an easy life!

    Like

  7. cecilia says:

    Oh I wish i could grow olives.. c

    Liked by 1 person

  8. lindasblogs says:

    I read this while I eat rice with green olives, cooked with olive oil. Thanks for giving me a sense of how my meal came about!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Laura Hilger says:

    Reminds me of when I picked olives in Greece long ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Very interesting, thanks for sharing Spike. Wanda

    Liked by 1 person

...waiting to hear from you...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Page Views

  • 558,149 and counting...

Join 2,827 other followers

Posts by Category

Member of The Internet Defense League

Copyright

© Uncle Spike, Uncle Spike's Adventures, 2013-2020

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Uncle Spike and Uncle Spike's Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Reblogs, pingbacks and other such links in order to use Uncle Spike's material are of course welcomed.

%d bloggers like this: