After last year's disaster we were very excited to see our trees full of flower buds the next Spring. A fabulous sign for a great harvest we hoped. For most people it was. However, for us and our neighbours it really, really, wasn't.
You see, just as the buds were flowering, we had damp, misty weather which basically stopped the pollen from circulating and fertilising the fruit. Most other people had a fabulous year. We had another stinker!
It took five of us 4 days to harvest 6 crates of olives (each crate holds around 25kg of olives or 2 'measures')* as the crop was so sparse - truly abysmal. We basically pressed enough just to give us oil for one year.
This is the thing that people often don't realise. Harvesting here is all done by hand and it is very time-consuimg. Now, if you have a nice compact tree with no dead wood that is full of olives you can get anything up to 2 (or even 3 crates in a marvellous year) per tree. As I've explained in my previous posts our trees (or plants as they call them here) are in less less than optimal condition as they are too tall, not fully cleaned (ie still have dead wood amongst the branches) and this year have had a very sparse fruit production.
These have been hard lessons in farming!
* a 'measure' is an old quantity if olives. It roughly translates to 12.5kg but was traditionally a measure of volume. Some villages still have their stone 'measure's in the main piazza where you poured your olives and counted your measures. Often 1/2 had to go to the owner of the land and the farmer kept half. This way there was no cheating. Our yield is calculated by the number of measures of olives required to produce a measure of oil. To put it in modern parlance, how many lots of 12.5kg of olives to produce 12.5 kg of oil. If it helps, one litre of oil weights 0.972kg.