Our 400 olive trees (2 acres) do not comprise a single orchard, but actually line the borders of various other orchard blocks on the farm, serving as windbreaks and edge habitat for beneficial wildlife. This year Farmer Al and Magaña (the head of our picking team) decided to start harvest on the trees lining our northwestern apple orchard, as these olives were ripest. Interestingly, when I looked back at our records, we actually ended the 19th day of olive harvest in this location last year. For some reason these olives ripened much sooner this year than last… and the trees were more productive! Last year, we we harvested about 13 macrobins (7,800 lbs) from this 0.15-acre strip and this year we picked 15 bins (9,000 lbs)! When I talked to Farmer Al about reasons for this increase, he emphasized the “orchestration of factors” - weather, microclimate, tree variety, soil type, management - that cause different blocks to ripen at different times each year… There is no one factor that we can credit for this increase in yield, but we will keep a close eye on the trends in other areas on the farm as harvest continues!
Author: Rachel Sullivan
Rachel Sullivan is the Farming Assistant, with a focus on soil science, at Frog Hollow Farm. She grew up working in her parents’ bread bakery in Berkeley and went on to study Sustainable Agriculture and Business at Cornell University. Post graduation, she worked at TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation, where she analyzed the carbon sequestration potential and microbial community composition of regeneratively managed rangeland soils. She is excited to help Farmer Al and the teams at Frog Hollow with all sorts of projects- from fertilization planning to wheat product development to soil sampling!