After months of uninterrupted and meticulous work we finally reached the endpoint of our efforts in October 2019: the olive harvest. Harvesting olives requires a careful planning as each single step should aim at ensuring the best possible quality of the olive oil in compliance with the regulations for organic cultures. During the previous months, the biggest challenge was the fight against the olive fruit fly which had threatened to cause huge losses.
The weapons available to us as organic growers are very limited and include balanced soil management, careful pruning, tight monitoring, and the use of kaolin clay. At the time of harvesting we detected a fly infestation in about 5% of the olives, which did not affect the oil quality.
The adverse weather conditions with ongoing rain showers forced us to postpone the start of the harvest of ten days. Finally, a beautiful sunny day on October 8, 2019 allowed us to begin the meticulous work of harvesting the ripe fruits. More than 5,000 olive trees on an area of about 21 ha were waiting for the 16 to 20 harvesters.
Leccino and Maurino varieties were used for the monovarietal oil, whereas Leccino, Moraiolo, Frantoio, Pendolino, and Morchiaio are mixed for the blend. The collection work, which begins at dawn and ends at sunset, is characterized by a succession of well-coordinated actions.
Harvest teams of 4 to 8 people begin with laying down large tarps, to prevent the olives from falling on the ground.
Then the branches of the olive trees are “combed” with large manual or mechanical rakes to make the olives fall. The fruits are then collected in well ventilated bins with a capacity of about 300 kg and immediately transferred to refrigerated trucks. Our olives are kept at a constant temperature of 6 degrees Celsius in order to ensure a high quality of the finished product. In fact, high temperatures between harvesting and pressing promote fermentation and deterioration of the pulp and reduce the consistency of the olives. This has a negative impact on the olive oil quality.
The maximum time spent between harvesting and pressing in 2019 did not exceed 6 hours.
After 10 days of work, the harvest ended on 18 October 2019. With about 50,000 kg of harvested olives, we could mark an increase of 150% compared to the 2018 harvest. After pressing, we bottled 315 l of monovarietal oil of Leccino and Maurino. Our results are even more satisfactory considering the overall decrease of 20% in the 2019 olive oil production in Tuscany compared to the previous year.
The high quality of the oil 2019 has been confirmed by the tests carried out after the pressing. The acidity and content of peroxides are considerably below the reference limits, while the polyphenols, which ensure a high quality, are very high.
The end of the harvest always marks the beginning of a new year with new challenges. In 2020 we are committed to reiterate and improve the excellent results of 2019. We plan to test new cultures and improve organic pest defense techniques drawing from current developments in research, cultivation, and harvesting technologies. This integration of the most innovative techniques for organic agriculture with the decades of experience of our team coordinated by Dr. Fiammetta Nizzi Grifi makes our organic extra virgin olive oil a product of excellence.
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