Left to right in the above photo are my sons Elio (20), Sam (4), and Max (6) along with yours truly (soon 59). Behind us is most of Poggiosole's impressive haul of olives for 2022.
A historically dry summer was balanced by abundant rainfall from mid-August and by our having added, with the help of a professional crew and a throng of friends and family, about half of the 200 trees in our outer grove to this year's harvest (for the past 20 years we've harvested olives from our 80 or so inner grove trees only). Those outer grove trees are in the process of being brought back into our care after years of benign neglect. After working two days to pick 1140 kilos of olives we headed to our local frantoio and brought home 162 liters of extra virgin oil this evening, over four times last year's total, and, more significantly, almost 60% more product on a per-tree basis. That improvement was due primarily to weather, which, though still too dry, omitted the late frost that so drastically reduced 2021's harvest.
Most of the trees we pulled olives from this weekend were in dire need of a haircut and did not have much fruit on them. But what fruit they did have was of high quality: we got a 13.1% average yield (every 100 kg
of whole olives yielded, on average, 13.1 kg of oil) and our usual grassy, lively spicy flavor and emerald green color.
Looking ahead I've identified two strong candidates for reshaping our bushy, over-tall outer grove trees, a process which may take up to five years and will commence in early 2023. Over the next couple of years my goal will be to keep our annual harvest at 1100 kilos or better and our yield at 12% or better, netting at least 140 liters of oil per year: sufficient to ensure that we won't run out even if 20 guests each opt to purchase 3 or 4 liters of oil while visiting Poggiosole. But no amount of judicious pruning will compensate for extreme weather and drought; we'll have to wait and see the support nature is able to provide given the forces of climate change.
Above all I'm grateful to everyone who showed up to work, play, and cook for the crew this weekend. A record turnout for a harvest that marked a renewed commitment to our land.