New Zealand's olive oil industry - Sunny outlook for Marlborough produce

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Long sunny days in Marlborough meant quality produce last year, and this season is shaping up to be just as good.

The relatively young olive oil industry is on a learning curve as growers grapple with New Zealand’s maritime climate, which promotes prolific growth but can lead to low yields and poor profitability.

Olives are harvested between April and August, and competitions to determine the top oils are held in New Zealand and overseas. Olives New Zealand chief executive Gayle Sheridan said Kiwi oils were ranked highly internationally.

The New Zealand’s olive oil industry is involved in a three-year Sustainable Farming Fund project to improve yields.

It was hoped after the first year, and with the advice of a tree crop specialist, that improvements would be seen, Sheridan said.

“We need to manage crops differently from those grown in arid conditions in Europe.”

“The biggest thing for farmers is the need to manage soils better to retain moisture, because 90 per cent of hill country farms can dry off in a couple of weeks.”

Marborough’s 2014 grape harvest was shaping up to be a good one, said Dominic Pecchenino, who produces grapes for a number of wineries.

The season to date was probably in line with an average year, he said.

Prior to an early bud burst, the region experienced some of the warmest weather on record, and aside from the normal equinox winds, there had been no damaging frosts.

There was no bloom and fruit set yet, he said. At this stage of production, what happened next depended on the weather.

“But that’s part of viticulture.”

NZ Farmer News

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