We began the 2010-11 olive harvest today.
This vintage is our 15th commercial olive harvest at Long Meadow Ranch and we are very excited. After the smallest harvest ever last year, we are now expecting our largest harvest in LMR history. Of course, over 1000 of our trees were planted in the 1870s. So, the record may have occurred during their storied past.
While the 2010 growing season was long and cool, we had excellent conditions at bloom in late May. Olives need ample moisture to keep blossoms hydrated at the crucial moment of bloom in late May. This year we had a cool, moist spring without the sudden heat spikes and high winds that were so damaging last year.
Our trees are laden with fruit and many of our orchards are also now reaching full maturity. Several of our orchards were planted by our son, Chris, during the summer of 1998 and the promise he helped create twelve long years ago is now finally coming to bear. So, we have had great conditions coupled with maturing tree; hence, the record crop.
Over the years we have almost always started harvest before Thanksgiving. So, we are about two weeks late. We expect to be harvesting over the next three weeks (at least fifteen processing days in the frantoio). If we're lucky we'll finish by Christmas, but the weather will be the key determinant. While rain doesn't hurt the olives, we can't safely harvest in the rain. We can wait out the rain. We just don't want high winds to blow the fruit to the ground. We won't be surprised to be harvesting during the first week in January.
We tasted the first oil of the season a couple of hours ago (unlike wine we can experience immediate gratification). The oil was clean, had beautiful aromas, and offered sharp pungency. We're excited. Stay tuned.