California Olive Ranch, Oroville, Calif., is more than doubling its olive oil production with the planting of the largest high-density olive oil orchard in North America near Artois in Northern California.
About 500,000 olive trees will be plantged on 883 acres of land in Glenn County, a major olive producing area. This new land and orchard expansion translates into the potential to annually produce more than 260,000 gallons of premium quality olive oil.
“The California olive oil industry is growing by leaps and bounds with no end in sight,” said Alan Greene, vice president of sales and marketing for California Olive Ranch. “Demand for California olive oils is surging among chefs and consumers alike. Sales numbers are growing dramatically every year and this latest expansion enables us to be strategically positioned to meet future demand. Once these trees have matured, California Olive Ranch's oil production will skyrocket.”
Once the newly acquired land is leveled and prepared, planting will begin and be completed within 30 — 45 days. To accomplish this, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 trees will be planted per day. Each tree is 12 — 18 inches tall when planted but will grow to more than 6 feet, 6 inches tall in just one year.
In 1999, California Olive Ranch introduced the U.S. olive oil industry to the “Super High Density” (SHD) planting system which results in the trees being planted closely together much like a grape vineyard. Using this approach, trees are planted in hedgerows and conditioned to grow in a trellis style for harvesting with over-the-row modified grape harvesters. The SHD planting system results in significantly more olive trees per acre (675 trees per acre compared to 120 trees per acre using traditional planting and spacing).
Three signature olive varieties will be planted on the new land in Artois: Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki.
The California Olive Ranch has produced a number of award-winning, high-quality extra virgin olive oils as evidenced with two recent showings at major international olive oil tastings. At the 2006 International Olive Oil Competition in Los Angeles, Olive Ranch's “Miller's Blend” received the “Best of Show” honor in the medium intensity category.
Other honors from that 2006 competition for California Olive Ranch included a gold medal for its Koroneiki variety and silver medals for each of the other varieties that include its Arbequina, Arbosana and Estate Reserve Blend. At the 2006 Huiles du Monde (Oils of the World) competition in Aix en Provence in the south of France, California Olive Ranch's Arbosana was awarded a gold medal in its category.
As California Olive Ranch prepares to plant the nation's largest olive oil orchard, company executives continue to search for additional acreage in the San Joaquin Valley for another large orchard and possible location for a new olive oil mill.