Olive field day Sept. 29 explores high density crop plantings

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Olive field day Sept. 29 explores high density crop plantings

The Burchell Olive Field Day at Fresno State will be presented from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 29 to provide information about planting a high density commercial olive orchard and featuring an expert from Spain’s leading research institute, IRTA.

The free event, sponsored and organized by Burchell Nursery of Fresno and hosted by Fresno State Orchards, will offer experts and presentations on planting high density olives for production, as well as harvesting demonstrations, an olive oil tasting and a tour of the university orchard.

“Olives grown for oil production are becoming a sought-after crop that promises higher income per acre than other crops,” said Tom Burchell, third generation CEO of Burchell Nursery. “California currently only produces 1 percent of the olive oil that is used around the world.”

The keynote speaker will be Joan Tous, a representative of Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA) in Barcelona, Spain, one of the leading organizations responsible for research and development of high density olives for production.

Gino Favagrossa, orchard enterprise manager at the University Agricultural Laboratory at Fresno State, and Paul Vossen, a farm adviser with the University of California Cooperative Extension, will be guest speakers.

Burchell has been a major supporter of Fresno State’s “olives for oil” project, which began in 2003. The company donated three high density olive varieties to the university‘s 22-acre super high density olive orchard planting system that was begun in 2003. The varieties – Arbequina IRTA i-18, Arbosana IRTA i-43 and Koroneiki IRTA i-38 – will be the focus of the field day.

In 2005, Fresno State produced the first commercial harvest of an olive plantation for oil from a super high density planting in the Central Valley, and the first on an academic campus.

The result of Fresno State’s project is the “California Extra Virgin Olive Oil” that has won three medals since it was first bottled in 2006. Two versions of the 2008 olive oil – Arbosona varietal and a Miller’s blend – are sold at the Gibson Farm Market on campus and We Olives in Fresno.

Dr. Andrew Lawson, associate professor and chair of the Department of Plant Science, said the project and partnership with industry leaders have provided Fresno State students “an excellent demonstration site for some of the latest developments in olive oil production in the state”.

The Sept. 29 event will be held in the Fresno State Orchard’s olive fields north of Bullard Avenue and in the orchard field house south of Bullard. Lunch, prepared by animal science/meats students of the Fresno State Young Cattlemen’s Association, will be at O’Neill Park on Barstow and Woodrow.

For more information and to RSVP for the Burchell Olive Field Day at Fresno State, contact Kelly Salinas at 559.834.1661l or kellys@burchellnursery.com. For information about Fresno State’s olives-for-oil project, contact Favagrossa at 278.7945, 906.5028 or ginof@csufresno.edu.