Apr 092012

Now let’s go to the west coast of the United States for Sacramento Valley Olive Day. Below is the schedule for the Olive Day educational sessions. As you will see it is full of great information. I’m not sure if there is a registration fee, but as the Boy Scout motto says – be prepared.

The Sacramento Valley Olive Day will be held on Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 1620 Solano St, Corning, CA 96021. The event is co-sponsored by Musco Family Olives, Bell Carter Olives, California Olive Ranch, West Coast Olive Products, and the Glenn County Agriculture Commissioner.

7:30 a.m. Registration
8:00 a.m. Agriculture Commissioner Update – Doug Compton, Tehama County Agriculture Commissioners Office
8:20 a.m. Review of Olive Fly Situation at the Canners 2011
8:35 a.m. Olive Pest Management District Updates
8:55 a.m. Olive Fly Control Update – Bill Krueger, UCCE Farm Advisor, Glenn County
9:25 a.m. Mechanical Harvest Update – Louise Ferguson, UCCE Olive Specialist
9:55 a.m. Coffee break
10:15 a.m. Overview of Olive Diseases Including Olive Knot – Elizabeth Fichtner, UCCE Farm Advisor, Tulare County
10:45 a.m. Olive Root Physiology and Root Functions – Joe Connell, UCCE Farm Advisor, Butte County
11:15 a.m. Research Updates: Stem Water Potential, A Tool for Irrigation Scheduling and Monitoring and Mechanical Hedging of Oil Olives – Bill Krueger
11:45 a.m. California Olive Committee Activities – Alexander Ott, Executive Director, California Olive Committee
12:15 p.m. Lunch, courtesy of Musco Family Olives, Bell Carter Olives and California Olive Ranch


View Larger Map

May the sun shine through your branches.


Sep 292011

I saw an article in Southern Oregon’s online news service the Mail Tribune. It is entitled “Olive tree is a gamble“. After I finished reading it I wondered if any of the US government agencies ever spoke with one another and coordinated their agriculture policies. Doesn’t seem like it.

In the article a woman, Emily R., comments and asks, “I recently returned from Greece with a small ‘airport-approved’ olive tree and was curious how the plant will hold up in this region?” WHAT?

Airport-approved? What does that mean? Was it purchased at the duty-free (this is not a substitute for destination, crop safety)? What about the US Department of Agriculture? What about the US Food and Drug Administration? What about the US Customs and Border Protection Agency? What about safe-guarding the world’s commercial olive crops, not just so someone can sell you a bottle of olive oil, but so you can have access to a healthy, human-digestible fat? What about the olive fruit fly? Did any of the government agencies who spend so much time controlling and quarantining plants and animals have any involvement in this “airport-approved” olive tree’s journey?

Yeah, it’s a gamble and not just because Emily’s olive tree might or might not survive living in Jacksonville, Oregon.

Here is some Olive Crazy advice – if you just got to have an olive tree, no matter where you live, buy it from an nursery inside the country you reside. That tree will more likely be a variety that can grow in your region and less likely to wreak havoc on your country’s olive industry and your valuable, food source.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Sep 202011

This is one of the most serious soilborne fungal pathogens. It doesn’t just damage; it kills young and old olive trees alike.

Verticillium is found in many US agricultural soils. My particular interest in this olive tree disease is that the southeastern US, with its newly-planted commercial olive trees, may suffer at a greater rate than the rest of the US. Verticillium infests soils that previously grew cotton and when “Cotton Was King” most farmland in the southeast grew King Cotton at one time or another.

The bad news is there is no reliable control method for this fungus. Fungicides are very expensive and hazardous. The best thing to do, if you suspect your olive tree has been infected, is to uproot and destroy.

My next comment is directed toward new olive tree growers in areas where the available agricultural specialists are not familiar with growing and caring for olive trees. When it comes to pests and diseases, unless you are qualified and knowledgeable enough to do so, please don’t make an assessment on your own. Hire a professional who knows and understands olive pests and diseases. Olive trees (Olea europaea) are too important a crop to risk losing your investment and harming someone else’s.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Jul 302011

Now is the time for the gross stuff – critters. Critters of the animal, insect, fungus, bacteria, and heavens know what other kind, variety. I wouldn’t be a good steward of the olive industry if I didn’t mention them.

Agriculture is fraught with peril. Not enough rain, too much rain, and in the case of the olive tree too much standing water. Olive tree roots hate to stay wet. Not enough sun, not enough cold, or too much cold and the bark will crack, weakening the olive tree. Like all other plants olive trees have environmental susceptibilities. But then, there are the pests and diseases too.

I know the environmental part is very important, but whenever someone asks me where they can get an olive tree for their yard, I can’t help but share cautionary tales about the pest and disease perils that their sweet little tree can potentially visit upon the existing and fledgling U.S. olive industry. I let them know it is their duty to their local growers and those who want to eat local produce not to have their own tree. What a worry wart, you say? You bet.

Let me explain. Joe, my brother, lives in Florida. He planted an olive tree next to his pool. Nice. Florida is an agriculture state that has laws in place to deal with commercial crop and non-commercial infestations. Florida is authorized to treat not only commercial crop infestations but non-commercial too, so long as the commercial crop is jeopardized. If olive fruit fly were to alight in Florida, Joe’s tree can be sprayed along with the commercial crops in his state. I live in a state just next door with different laws. Good luck getting on Granny’s property to treat her tree. Therefore, I worry. Georgia has a fledgling olive industry that I don’t want to see die out prematurely or affect the one we have – in California.

Today our featured pest is the olive fruit fly, bactrocera oleae. The olive fruit fly is the most serious threat to the U.S. olive industry to date, and in the U.S. it has no known predators or parasites. Now that the U.S. olive industry is expanding into other states, each with different laws, the olive fruit fly is an important insect to get to know.

In 1998, the olive fruit fly was discovered in southern California. Exactly how it arrived is not certain, speculation is that it was brought from France. By 2002, the southern California visitors had travelled the state and were everywhere. For such a tiny little fly, that was some fast moving. California’s olive industry was in peril, and as we know today, some folks in the industry did not survive.

When the olive fruit fly invaded, it was a good crop year, and eradication was a problem. California has a significant number of trees on private lands and in roadways. Those trees acted as “reservoirs for reinvasion into treated orchards” (Collier, T.R. & Van Steenwyk, R.A. (2003) see below for link to article).

The olive fruit fly is common in the Mediterranean region and in the Mediterranean it has natural parasitic foes. We do not have them in the U.S., however, there are studies being conducted into parasitic alternatives, like a Pakistani olive fruit fly known as psyttalia ponerophaga.

In the mean time, the olive fruit fly is under control in California. Research is still underway for ways to effectively eradicate an infestation or keep one from happening at all.

Here are links to two documents regarding the olive fruit fly. The first is “Olive Fruit Fly” by Paul Vossen, Lucia G. Varela, and Alexandra Devarenne. The second is a research article entitled “Prospects for integrated control of olive fruit fly are promising in California” by Timothy R. Collier and Robert A. Van Steenwyk.

May the sun shine through your branches.