Olive Growers Face Challenging Season with Limited Water Supply, Heat

Multiple hot spells with day temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius, and little to no seasonal rainfall, are just some of the challenges olive producers have had to battle this season.


With harvest starting in some parts of South Australia, some farmers are now seeing fruit that has not developed to full size or has shrivelled due to the lack of water.

Despite the seasonal challenges, many have managed to still grow good quality and above-average olive crops.

Australian Olive Association CEO Greg Seymour said he believed regions reliant on rainfall saw crop reductions, but even growers who had a good supply of water saw above-average crops.

"In these periods of hot spells in South Australia we lost a lot of flower and we lost a lot of fruit," Mr Seymour said. "Overall, we might be just on the high side of an average year."

"So, it's not desperation, it's not champagne, it's just a good, solid season."

As growers had to use more water to nurture their trees and water prices are high, Mr Seymour thought it was a challenge for growers to get that extra cost back.

Water Supply Challenges Growers 

Olive grower and marketing manager of Prema Bros in the Adelaide Plains, Domenic Catanzariti, said their crop was looking good, but some fruit was quite small because it did not have any rainfall since November.

"We had to irrigate a lot and the people that didn't have irrigation, it just wouldn't have developed the fruit properly," he said.

Roger Hefford and Megan McKenzie are one of the few commercial olive growers left in South Australia's Riverland.

They had top quality oil content come from their olives this season.

"We are really happy with the yield and our oil content was 30 per cent this year. Last year we got 22 per cent, so our oil volume was up," Mr Hefford said.

"It's really bitter, it is high in polyphenols count which keeps longer and is just a better-quality oil. More