Harvest & Cultivation.

How and when are olives picked? A primer on the intricacies of the olive harvest.

Harvest & Cultivation

The olive harvest typically begins in autumn, but timing varies by olive growing region, as well as whether the olives are to be used for eating or producing oil. For example, olives that are being processed as Green olives will be picked when they have reached full size but are still green. Olives that are left on the tree longer will grow darker or more purple in color, such as the Kalamata. They can also be left on the tree longer until they become "ripe" olives.

Olives mature at different rates so they are not all ready to be picked at the same time. Often growers will return to pick from the same tree many times during the course of a harvest. Olives grown for the production of oil are picked as soon as they reach optimum ripeness. Although modern farming equipment has tried to replicate harvesting by hand, the traditional method still remains the best to date.