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California olive crop estimate down in 2008 approximately 65,000 tons

The California olive crop estimate for the table olive industry estimates the 2008 crop at about 50 percent compared to last year. This year's table olive orchards should yield 65,000 tons, down from 132,500 tons last year.

It appears that the Sevillano variety will be especially low. The oil olive crop should fare quite a bit better, because the greater number of varieties were affected less by alternate bearing. There will also be an additional 2,000 acres of super-high-density orchards planted in 2005 that are coming into production for the first time this season.

Production should continue climbing each year for at least the next five years based on the estimated 2,000 acres planted in 2006; 4,000 acres planted in 2007; and more than 6,000 acres planted this summer (2008) reaching full production.

California's estimated production of oil in 2007-2008 was about 500,000 gallons and should reach 600,000 gallons this year. This is less than anticipated based on new acreage beginning to bear that should have brought over 200,0000 gallons of new oil into California producers' tanks.

This is due to several factors related to weather this spring. The different regions and varieties were affected differently with some areas hit by the April 20 freeze that turned a huge bloom into mediocre fruit set. This occurred primarily in the North Coast, Sacramento Valley, and Sierra Foothills. Other areas had a lighter bloom than last year due to typical alternation from one year to the next, got a pretty good set from the lighter bloom, but still had less fruit than last year. Many areas also saw a reduced set from the early season, dry soil conditions and hot, dry winds during bloom.

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