47 Olive Growers tour the Canberra Region in the name of research

Canberra ACT – On the 29th November the Olive Alliance Field Day toured through the Canberra region from Jeir to Collector.

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Looking out over Fedra Olive Grove

47 growers travelled from the Hunter Valley, Falls Creek, Sydney, Wagga Wagga & Canberra region, and took part in the “Olive Alliance Field Day”.  The day was a great success where the Olive Alliance sought to deliver as many answers about olive growing to bring improvements into each grove of those who attended.   The Canberra field day is the third in the series and has previously travelled to Perth & Adelaide regions.

Featured speakers included Professor Robert Spooner-Hart who gave practical advice from years of research on tackling pest & disease management in a “how-to” manner.  Also, Dr Rodney Mailer, Research Fellow of Australian Oils & Research Laboratory (AORL) in Wagga Wagga discussed his RIRDC research about the ‘chemistry reasoning’ behind choices in packaging & storage and Bailey says “I’ve been approached by some Growers since the field day who are reviewing to change their packaging and storage choices.  Usually, it is not what you know… it’s what you don’t know and this is why field days like this one are valuable in the way in which information can be delivered.  If each and every grower from these days can improve one part of their grove or processing operation, this is what we look to achieve… getting the right answers in the hands of our growers!”

Bailey went on to say “The area of Grove Management seems to be gravely misunderstood with regard to caring of your trees particularly in terms of water and nutrition.  Almost every grower admitted to making mistakes along the way”

Olive Expert, Berlanda discussed the importance of proper irrigation and nutritional needs of olive trees and went on to say “3 megalitres per hectare per year is the minimum.  If you don’t have 3 megalitres per hectare per year the yields aren’t going to be what you expect.  Timing in Early Spring to March/April is when you need water.  In many cases, groves were planted and the first couple of years trees were cropping well then after year 4,5,6,7 the yields either go up and down from year to year to the other end of the spectrum where you get none.  This is mainly related to lack of water.  Sometimes it is good to think of pruning to keep a compact canopy and reducing water requirements and you can maintain crops every year.  It is common to see groves that yield 5T/year and the next nothing and that’s the problem with 90% of the cases I see is related to irrigation.  Obviously, fertiliser requirements are important.  Trees like this probably require 200 grams of fertiliser per year, which he referred this to the newly planted trees which you need to take into account whether planting or if you have a grove”

The array of presentations struck a chord with many who attended including Ross Williams, who remarked  “The program topics offered a great mix of commentary, styles, information and variety of venues: all informative in their own way. The speakers and technicality.. need I say ‘Superlative’… All top flight people with the confidence and personalities to present their material in an interesting manner. All our major concerns were covered in an enjoyable ‘field day’ format. I definitely, from an improvement point of view, find there is always something to learn, digest and find a way to implement in our enterprise. I came wondering how much SHD could impact on our undertaking and am leaving reinforced in the knowledge that there is a still a deal of enthusiasm amongst growers who came to inform themselves”.

After the presentations were finished, our group was treated to a ‘Greek Style’ lunch which was catered for by Grandma’s Little Bakery located onsite at Fedra Olive Grove.  The Olive Alliance wanted to pay tribute to Fedra’s grove owner, Jeff Konstantinou,  by celebrating the Greek heritage of this grove.  Lunch was abundant in the usual Greek way with splashes of award winning Extra Virgin Olive Oil, greek style olives, dukkah and traditional meat dishes .. and then the Greek desserts… the food and wine kept coming.  During the networking over lunch, all our growers had the opportunity to extend their knowledge further by tasting a locally produced oil with a polyphenol level of more than 1,000 ppm and also tasted the National Award winning oil from Grassy Spur Olives.  Lots of banter about the oils.  We all went home over full and I’m sure some of us didn’t need any dinner!

The Olive Alliance is currently planning a field day through Melbourne in the new year.  Details to follow…

View photos:  Olive Alliance Field Day Canberra – Gallery

About Olive Alliance

The Olive Alliance has been bought together by Agromillora Australia, Olive-tec & The Olive Centre

Damian Crowe is the Agromillora Australia Nursery Manager which is part of the Agromillora international nursery providing olive trees for setting up Super High-Density Groves.  Evaluating costs per/ha of grove setup using different methods and machinery needed.  Ability & benefits for the smaller grove and the utilisation of contractors for pruning, harvesting & spraying.

Marcelo Berlanda is an olive specialist & Olivetec Director – Nutrition, Pruning, Irrigation requirements to achieve maximum yield, SHD system & varieties, growth habits of SHD varieties & long term yields. Olive Oil Processing and oil quality are also at the forefront with any strategies employed in any grove.

Amanda Bailey is The Olive Centre Managing Director provides Australia’s leading supplier of equipment, machinery and advice, our team supports growers and producers to achieve the maximum from their groves, streamlining efficiencies with the right tools for the job & looking at cost reduction strategies.  Specialising in Olive Oil & Olive Production machinery.

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About Fedra Olive Grove

The owner of Fedra Olive Grove produces multi-award winning olive products with over 6,000 trees nestled between Canberra and Goulburn.   Development of this olive grove is much more than meets the eye.  The identity of the new restaurant ‘Grandma’s Little Bakery‘ is also the outlet for all the Fedra Olive Products whilst also winning a Regional Tourism award for best restaurant and catering service in 2011.  Come and see Fedra Olives a great industry success story

About Jamie Ninness, SHD Grove

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Works full time in the area of IT Security in Canberra.  In May 2010 Jamie purchased a neglected cattle farm at Jeir. Both farm & house required much attention needing renovation and cleanup. The two years to follow Jamie deliberated about many options to farm including traditional Olive growing but after a great deal of investigation the SHD system was chosen in October 2012 and planted 2,500 trees which have been placed 1m apart and row spacing of 3.5metres, his learning curve just begun!

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