Olive growers come up with a top drop

Olive oil is poured into a vat at the Wicked Virgin at Rutherglen. Co-owner John Nowacki checks the results. Picture: TARA GOONAN

Olive oil is poured into a vat at the Wicked Virgin at Rutherglen. Co-owner John Nowacki checks the results. Picture: TARA GOONAN

BORDER olive growers are harvesting their crops later this season.

A heatwave at the start of the year and unseasonably warm weather has pushed the harvest back several weeks.

But The Wicked Virgin co-owner Laurel Nowacki said growers were still positive.

“We’ve only just started harvesting ... this is normally the part of the season where it tails out,” she said.

“It’s been warm and there was the huge heatwave in January.

“If you were a plant you wouldn’t know what season it was.”

Staff only recently started picking fruit from the 2000 trees at the Rutherglen property.

Harvester and exporter Eberhard Kunze has also started using a new machine to harvest olives.

The trees are shaken and the olives fall into a large net.

Most of the fruit is then processed and turned into oil, with about 5 to 10 per cent used as table olives.

“We generally process about 40 to 50 trees an hour,” he said, “depending on the size of the trees.”

“But the wet weather is holding us up, the grounds are saturated and its hard to get machinery onto.”

While the rain has led to heavy crops, it has also led to smaller oil yields as olives soak up the water.

“This region probably grows some of the best fruit and makes the best oil around,” Mr Kunze said.

“It’s always represented highly at awards shows.

“We export a lot to China.”

This year’s harvest is expected to finish mid-next month.

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