Back in November, we seeded the rows between the trees with a mix of oats, peas and beans. We are dry-farming them so, given the light rain we have had so
Cover crop in the orchard
far this year, it has taken a while for them to come up. But they are finally starting to fill in! Hopefully this will help to catch more water in the coming storms as well as provide the trees with good nutrients when we cut and mulch it in the spring. Oats sprout quickly to help prevent weeds and provide structure for the legumes. The peas and beans help break up compacted soil and gather nitrogen that will be released when it is cut and tilled into the soil this Spring. It should also look pretty once they bloom, maybe attracting some helpful insects.
You can see the oats doing well
These are the peas
60 Minutes did an excellent expose on the seedy underbelly of the counterfeit olive oil market. Take a look, it is very well done! And one way to make sure you are getting only the best extra virgin olive oil is to look for the California Olive Oil Council seal on the bottle. This year it shows a grey “2015” on a yellow background. They taste each submitted oil and only those that pass both sensory and chemistry testing are certified as “Extra Virgin”
Mafia Control of Olive Oil the Topic of ’60 Minutes’ Report
I have noticed that there are a handful of trees that have turned yellow and started to defoliate. I have heard from other growers that it is normal for olives to yell a bit in the winter, but these seem to be excessively so. And it is only a handful of them, interspersed in the rest of the orchard. The olive expert at UC Davis told me I wasn’t watering or fertilizing correctly, but that doesn’t make sense because it is one tree in the middle of a row and its neighbors are either doing fine or are slightly yellowing. I asked if it could be Peacock Spot, a fungus that attacks olive trees, and he dismissed that as unlikely. Not super helpful…
One of these things is not like the others
Yellowing, distressed Arbequina tree
So I took samples of the leaves from the trees that are looking sick as well as those that are just marginally yellow, as well as soil and water samples, and packed it off to the labs for nutrient and pathogen testing. It will take a week for the tissue testing results and 3-4 weeks to get the pathogen results back.
Meanwhile, we will keep an eye on them and make sure they get good water.