Commercial olive farming is a very old and popular business in many countries throughout the world. It’s a very easy but highly profitable business.
Olive plants are cultivated mainly for olive oil, fine wood, olive leaf, olive fruit and also for ornamental purpose. But the main purpose of commercial olive farming is the production of olive oil.
The olive (Olea europaea) is actually a species of small tree or shrub in the family Oleaceae, which is found traditionally in the Mediterranean Basin. When in shrub form, it is known as Olea europaea ‘Montra‘, dwarf olive, or little olive.
Commercial olive farming is done and very popular in all the countries of the Mediterranean, and also in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and in both North and South America.
Olive (olive fruit) is a very important agricultural crop in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil. And olive oil is one of the core ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine. The tree and its fruit give their name to the plant family, which also includes species such as lilac, jasmine, forsythia, and the true ash tree.
Currently there are numerous cultivars of the olive tree available throughout the world. And these cultivars may be used mainly for oil production, eating or for both.
The olive cultivated for direct consumption purpose are generally referred to as ‘table olives’. About only 10% of the harvested olives are used as table olives, while about 90% are turned into oil.
Olives are actually one of the most extensively cultivated fruit crops in the world. And most of these commercial operation is done mainly for olive oil production purpose.
Top olive producing countries are Spain, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Portugal. Major olive producing countries are in Mediterranean region and they produce about 95% of the world’s total production.
However, commercial olive farming is a very common and popular business. It’s a very easy and profitable business. You can start commercial olive farming business easily for making good profits.
Raw olive and olive products all are very nutritious and good for human health. Raw green olives are about 1% protein, 4% carbohydrates, 15% fat and 75% water.
A 100 grams of cured green olive provide 146 calories, are a rich source of vitamin E (25% of the Daily Value, DV), and contain a large amount of sodium (104% DV); other nutrients are insignificant.
Health Benefits of Olive
Raw olives and olive products all are highly nutritious and good for human health. Here we are trying to describe more information about the top health benefits of olives.
- Olives are high in healthy fats. Their most abundant fat is oleic acid, which may have several health benefits.
- Olives contain between 4 and 6 percent carbs, and most of which consists of fiber.
- Olives are a good source of vitamins especially vitamin E, and some minerals. Iron, copper and calcium are found in olives.
- Olives are especially rich in antioxidants, including oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleanolic acid and quercetin.
- High blood cholesterol and blood pressure are both risk factors for hearth diseases. Oleic acid found in olive oil is associated with improved hearth health by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure level.
- Regular consumption of olive products will improve your bone health.
- Consumption of olives and olive products may reduce the risk of cancer, as they are high in antioxidant and oleic acid.
Advantages of Olive Farming Business
Commercial olive farming is very easy, even the beginners can also start this business. It’s just like starting any other fruit farming business and highly profitable.
Although, we recommend having practical knowledge from an existing farmer before starting this business. Here we are trying to list the top advantages of commercial olive farming business.
- Starting commercial olive farming business is very easy and simple, even the beginners can start this business easily.
- Commercial production is very profitable and it’s a great way for extra income.
- Commercial production of olive is already an established business and many people are already doing this. So, you don’t have to worry much about starting and operating this business.
- The olive plants are generally very strong and hardy. And they generally require less caring, so growing them is relatively easy.
- Demand and value of olive and olive products are very high. So profits in this business is also high.
- Marketing olive and olive products is very easy and simple. Olive and all olive products already have very good demand and value in the market.
- Commercial olive farming is a very profitable business. So, it can be a great employment source for the people, especially for the educated but unemployed people.
- Production cost in commercial olive production is relatively less. But the returns are much higher.
- You will be able to harvest olives continuously for many years once the plants are established.
- As you can see above, olives are highly nutritious. And you can enjoy fresh olive and olive products if you start your own olive production business.
How to Start Olive Farming
Starting commercial olive farming business is just like starting other fruit farming business. It’s very easy and simple and the beginners can also start this business easily.
Although we recommend having practical experience from existing farmers. Here we are trying to describe more information about starting commercial olive farming business from planting, caring to harvesting and marketing.
Selecting a very good and suitable land for olive farming is very important. Olive plants can be cultivated in a wide range of soil types.
The plants generally require deep, rich and well drained loamy or clay loam soils for best growth and maximum production. Soil pH range between 6 and 7.5 is considered ideal for good growth and maximum yields.
Prepare the Soil
Prepare the soil perfectly before planting the small plants. 2-3 ploughing will be enough, and add as much organic contents as you can at the time of last ploughing.
Climate Requirement For Olive Farming
Warm climate to subtropical conditions are required for commercial olive farming business. The optimum temperature range for good production is between 15° C and 20° C.
Prolonged dry and hot spells with water stress is not favorable for olive farming due to fruit drop. These plants require about 100 cm of well distributed rainfall during their growth period. The plants are also sensitive to frost conditions.
Best Time For Olive Cultivation
January to February is the best time for planting in the irrigated areas, and July to August is best for planting in no irrigation and prolonged drought areas. And planting should be delayed in heavy rainy areas.
Choose a Variety
There are more than hundreds of olive cultivars available throughout the world. All these cultivars differ in size, color, shape, growth characteristics and also the qualities of oil. Consult with an existing farmer in your area for having better recommendation.
Propagation can be done through seeds and cuttings. The preferred ways are cuttings and layers; the tree roots easily in favorable soil and throws up suckers from the stump when cut down.
However, yields from trees grown from suckers or seeds are poor; they must be budded or grafted onto other specimens to do well.
The olive plants are also sometimes grown from seeds. The oily pericarp is first softened by slight rotting, or soaked in hot water or in an alkaline solution to facilitate germination.
However, if you want to avoid germination and want to avoid the hassle of producing new plants, then you can purchase plants from the nurseries.
You can done planting of the olive plants in January to February in the irrigated areas, and wait planting till July to August in no irrigation and prolonged drought areas.
And planting should be delayed in heavy rainy areas. The olive trees are highly sensitive to water stagnation. So ensure providing the plants with proper drainage in case of heavy rains and flooding.
Planting distance should be around 8 meters for fertile deep soils with adequate irrigation facility. And this system will be enough to accommodate about 150 trees per hectare land.
The planting distance should be between 6 and 7 meters for semi dwarf rootstocks and this system will accommodate 250 to 300 trees per hectare land.
And the planting distance should be between 6 m x 5 m or 8 m x 5m in rectangle planting method. And this method can accommodate between 250 and 330 trees per hectare.
The olive plants are very strong and hardy and they require less caring and other management. Although, taking additional caring will ensure good growth of the plants and maximum yields.
Apply 10 kg farm yard manure per tree per year and N:P:K at the rate of 75:50:50 grams per tree. Apply 300 grams super phosphate per tree and 300 grams calcium ammonium nitrate.
Adequate irrigation will help the plants to grow well and produce more fruits. The olive trees generally require about 100 cm well distributed rain throughout their growth.
Irrigate the plants in hot and prolonged dry conditions as needed. Irrigation is a must 1 month before expected flowering and after 2 weeks of blooming period. And one irrigation should be carried a month after fruit set to stimulate fruits development.
Mulching helps to retain moisture into the soil. And at the same time it also helps to prevent most of the weeds. You can use both plastic and organic materials for using as mulch.
Controlling weeds is very important in commercial olive farming business. Because weeds consume nutrients from the soil and the olive plants will suffer.
Regular manual weeding and mulching will prevent most of the weeds. So, try to perform manual weeding on a regular basis.
In case of fruits bearing trees, pruning should be carried out immediately after harvesting. Doing this will encourage new growth. Removing of dead and injured branches should be done regularly.
You can cultivate any legume crop or vegetable like tomato, onion, chilli as an intercrop. This will give you some extra income during the first few years before the trees starts commercial production of olives.
Pests & Diseases
Like many other commercial crops, the olive trees are also susceptible to some pests and diseases. Common diseases of the olive plants are verticillium wilt, root rot, phytophthora crown, peacock spot, olive knot, diplodia canker and leaf spot. Contact you local horticulture or agriculture department for more information.
Timely harvesting of olives is very important, because harvesting immature olives will decrease both quality and quantity of olive oil.
Hand picking is the most common and most desirable method of olive harvesting. But it is an expensive and slow process, so you can also go for mechanical method as it impacts the oil quality.
The right time to harvest olives is when oil with a pleasant aroma and good quality is obtained without much bitterness.
Exact number depends on numerous facts such as soil, climatic conditions, planting method, cultivar and crop management system. Generally you can expect between 22 and 25 percent oil content from the stones.
Marketing olive and olive products is very easy and simple. You can easily target your local market for selling your products. Although, you should set your marketing strategies before starting this business.
These are the common steps and ways for starting and operating a successful olive farming business. Hope this guide has helped you! Good luck & may God bless you!
Frequently Asked Questions
People ask many questions about olive farming. Here we are trying to list the most common questions about olive production business. Hope you will find your answer. Don’t hesitate to ask us if you have more questions.
How profitable is olive farming?
Commercial olive farming is a very profitable business. So, it can be a great employment source for the people, especially for the educated but unemployed people. Production cost in commercial olive production is relatively less. But the returns are much higher. If you are a beginner and planning to start a farming business, then commercial olive production will be a very good business for you.
How to start olive farming business?
Starting commercial olive farming business is relatively easy and simple, even the beginners can start this business easily. Follow the steps mentioned below for starting this business.
- Select a good area
- Prepare the soil
- Choose the right variety
- Purchase plants
- Prepare the soil
- Plant in the main field
- Apply fertilizer and water regularly
- Apply organic mulch
- Control pests and diseases
- Take good care of the plants
How long does it take to grow olives?
Generally, most of the olive variety start producing fruit after their 3 years of age.
Are olives easy to grow?
Yes, growing olives is very easy and simple. Olive plants require less maintenance and caring them is very easy.
How long does it take to farm olives?
Most of the olive variety start producing fruits after their 3 years of age.
Do olive trees need a lot of water to grow?
No, the olive trees generally require less water. They are very drought resistant. Although they require water to survive.
How many olives does one tree produce?
A fully grown mature olive tree will produce around 15-20 kg olive every year.
Where do olive trees grow best?
The olive trees generally grow best in a climate where the summer is long, hot and dry and the winter is cool.
Do olives like sun or shade?
Olive trees love and require full sun to grow and produce well.
How long do olive live for?
Olive trees can live for many centuries with an average lifespan of 500 years. The oldest known olive tree is 1500 years old.
How often are olives harvested?
Harvesting olive trees may begin as early as late August and will continue through November depending upon the region, variety and desired ripeness.
Why do they harvest olives at night?
Olives apparently taste better when harvested at night because the cooler temperatures allow for better retention of aromatic compounds.
Are olives harvested every year?
Yes, olives are harvested every year.
What kind of fertilizer do olive trees need?
Generally, the olive trees need a balanced fertilizer with a 16-16-16 nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium ratio or similar.
How much land do you need to grow olive trees?
You can plant about 200-350 olive trees per acre.
Do olives need male and female?
No, most of the varieties of olive trees are self-fertile.
How many olives for 1 liter oil?
Between 4 and 5 kilos of olives are needed to produce 1 liter of olive oil.
How many olive trees can you plant per acre?
Depends on variety, soil type, soil fertility and many other factors. Generally, you can plant about 200-350 olive trees per acre.
Is cow manure good for olive trees?
Yes, cow manure is very good for olive trees. Cow manure contain important nutrients for the olive trees.