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OLive Trees Provence - Grasse Area - Can anyone help


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First of all, we're nowhere near your area, so can't help with the specifics of the Grasse area.

However, some friends have a plot of land with quite a few (maybe 30-40) mature olive trees. They harvest the olives in around Nov / Dec I think. They do this by laying a very large cotton sheet (presumably several roughly sewn together) around each tree and literally shaking the tree.

They gather up the olives in very large containers and take them to a local professional producer, who presses them. You need quite a few kilos of olives to get each litre - my recollection is something of the order of 15:1, but would happily be corrected.

They have to pay for the service (no idea how much) but what they do end up with is umpteen litres of excellent oil - great for home use and as presents. Its very doubtful as to whether a professional producer would be interested in doing the harvesting for you, but you never know!

So, I'd suggest that you seek out a local professional and have a chat. They'll want to know how many trees and variety. You'll want to know whether they could help and at what cost.

Forget any thoughts of going for table olives. The curing process is a right game + there's a limit as to how many even an olive fan can eat! Best bought on the local market.
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For the last two years the olives on our trees have been attacked by the olive fruit fly, which, together with a blight which also attacks olives, has spread from Italy and beyond, where crops have been destroyed, so is quite likely to be affecting olives in your area.

The presence of the larvae in the fruit spoils the taste of the oil or preserved olives produced, making the crop useless.

When the olives fall to the ground the grubs enter the soil, where they pupate, and eventually hatch into flies ready to attack the next season's crop.

The only legal treatment consists of spraying with a solution of fine clay, which is supposed to coat the fruit and deter the flies from laying their eggs. You can not use insecticides nor systemic treatments on fruit trees anywhere near the time of harvesting.

I treated our trees in the legal way, but the clay solution does not really coat the fruit well, and the slightest rain or dew washes it off, so after respraying a couple of times I gave up. Maybe professional farmers have better techniques than my hand operated spraying equipment.

This, together with the necessity to prune the trees correctly, really means you need to hire someone to look after your trees, or devote quite a bit of your time to their care if you want any harvests, but the trees look quite pleasant without being pruned.

A field of olives near to our garden is sprayed at least 3 or 4 times a year. I asked the man doing this 2 years ago what they were using, but he said he didn't know, and that I should ask the owner of the trees. I'm sure he wasn't using an illegal insecticide.

You can find plenty of information if you Google "olive fruit fly"

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