FAIRFIELD — Jon Fadhl didn’t want this year’s olive harvest to be a repeat of 2011.
Local olive growers had a tough 2011. Unusual weather featuring rain late into the spring affected the fruit set, leading to small crops and small olive oil yields.
But the recent 2012 olive harvest turned out to be a good one, Fadhl said.
“We basically doubled what we had last year on the crop yield,” said Fadhl, who owns Jovia Groves with his wife Sylvia.
The Fadhls have 20 acres of Spanish Arbequina olive trees in Dixon. The olive harvest this year yielded about 28 tons, which will translate to more than 1,000 gallons of olive oil. The 2011 harvest yielded 400 gallons of olive oil.
In addition, Fadhl and Suisun Valley farmer Derrick Lum have teamed up to offer Tuscany olive oil using olives from a 2-acre Suisun Valley orchard.
While Jovia Groves Spanish Arbequina olive oil is carried in local Raley’s markets, the new Suisun Valley oil may not be there. Call Jovia Groves at 678-1334 for more information about purchasing this olive oil.
Mark Sievers co-owns Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co. in Suisun Valley with his wife Ann. He, too, saw a better 2012 harvest than in 2011.
“It is not a super bumper crop, but it certainly was above average,” Sievers said.
The young Il Fiorello orchards yielded about six tons. That compares to less than a ton in 2011.
The weather was far more favorable in 2012 for olives, Sievers said.
“We didn’t have a sleet storm and hail storm and stuff like that,” Sievers said, adding that some growers didn’t even bother to harvest last year.
Il Fiorello in 2011 bought a new olive mill from Italy for its fast-growing custom milling operation, serving other olive growers in the region. This new olive mill processes 6,000 pounds of olives an hour, four times the capacity of the previous mill.
But then the bad 2011 harvest hit and the new mill sat idle for much of the time. Only this fall did the machine finally have a large harvest to mill.
“We’ve probably milled 230 tons of olives, which is quite a bit,” Sievers said. “We’re drawing people from the Sierras, a lot from Napa, Sonoma, Contra Costa. We’ve had people coming from as far as 100 miles away.”
California has some 30,000 acres of olives planted to produce extra virgin olive oil, according to the California Olive Oil Council. The state has about 400 growers and producers.
In Solano County, olives are not a major crop, but have a niche. The latest Solano County crop report said that in 2011 – the year of the bad harvest – 128 acres yielded 112 tons worth $173,400. That compares to 162 tons worth $278,000 in 2010.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.