Harvesting olives

by admin on 01/11/2016

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In the hills above the village of Porto Ercole, the Fois family, who originally came from Sardinia, lives in a property called Spaccamontagna in the area of «La Marchesa». In 1980, Mr. Fois planted a small olive grove, which 36 years later, gives a large amount of olives.

During our visit, he showed us how, by holding an olive branch shaped like a Y, he could find a water source below ground. Initially, the branch was horizontal, but the end of the branch folded towards the ground as he approached the water source. By finidng water on his own property, he could water the olive trees for all these years in an area, which has in general far too little rain. In fact, I was told by several olive growers and owners of olive oil mills that 2016 was pretty dry and that the olive harvest was very limited. However, the overall quality was really good.

He also showed us how he captured olive fruit flies, which deposits eggs inside the olives, destroying them. In order to avoid using pesticides, he used simple, but efficient traps instead.

One of these traps was made of a flat sheet of green plastic, letting it hang from a branch on an olive tree and applying a sticky substance to each side of the plastic sheet. Since the substance was attractive to the olive fruit flies, they landed on the plastic sheet, but they coudn’t leave. We saw several of these traps covered with flies. Another trap consisted of plastic bottles, which were hanging on a wall next to the olive grove. All the bottles were partly filled with a liquid, which attracted the flies, while slightly above the liquid, there was a small hole, letting the flies enter the bottle easily, but nearly impossible to get out again. Then, sooner or later, they would drown in the liquid.

Regarding harvesting the olives, a net was put below the olive trees, then they used a machine with moving parts and powered by a car battery to make the olives fall down on the net. In addition, in one of the olive trees, three person were forcing the olives to fall down on a net below the olive tree by holding their hands around a branch with olives and forcing them to fall down.

Before we left, the Fois family generously invited us to a meal consisting of bruschetta with olive oil, prosciutto, cheese and red wine. A very nice and delicious way of finishing our visit.

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