Grasas y Aceites, Vol 57, No 1 (2006)

Trends in olive fruit handling previous to its industrial transformation

Louise Ferguson
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California Davis, United States


Until the 1940s, when production economics and labor shortages became pressing, olives around the world were hand harvested. Despite 60 years of research, mechanical. There are two major reasons for this. First, trees over 20 years old are too tall and poorly structured for mechanical harvesting. Second, mechanical harvesting research for table olive production has not been sufficiently focused on the final goal, processed fruit quality. For oil olives, which are physiologically mature at harvest and require less removal force, advances in both trunk shaking and picker head technology are advancing rapidly. Also, as olive oil is enjoying a renaissance around the world new orchards are being planted in the hedgerows that facilitate mechanical harvesting. For table olives however, mechanical harvesting is still in the developmental stage. The research being done now, unlike earlier work, focuses on the parallel goals of efficient fruit removal and final processed product quality. Within 10 years most olive oil orchards of suitable tree size and shape will be mechanically harvested. When table olives will be routinely harvested mechanically cannot be predicted.


Mechanical harvesting; Olive; Olive oil; Table olive

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