Olive Research for Oregon

The Olea project is a collaboration between Oregon State University (OSU) Extension’s Mid-Valley Small Farms Program and local olive growers.

Olea is generously funded by the Sustainable Agricultural Research & Education (SARE) program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 201207-549 through the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number SW18-057. USDA is is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Olive Trees being grown at NWREC in Aurora, Oregon. Most of these trees were donated by businesses for research. The OSU Small Farms Program is researching the best way to grow Olives in Oregon.

Olives (Olea europaea) are an innovative crop that offer many opportunities for Oregon small farmers to diversify their farms and generate alternative income from value-added farm products. The Olea Project was established with the goals of making olive production economically feasible and reducing climatic limitations for olive growers during establishment in Oregon’s unique growing conditions.

We are currently conducting research and evaluation of the best practices for both table olives and oil producing olives in Oregon. Our research focuses on propagation techniques, cultivar evaluation, and transplanting and orchard establishment practices, in collaboration with experienced growers and industry professionals. Olives offer growers the opportunity to introduce new revenue streams, take advantage of the crop’s lower water and input needs, and utilize soils considered to be of lesser agricultural quality. Olives are an upcoming specialty crop in the state of Oregon as growers look to diversify and to anticipate future climate and market possibilities.

The primary objectives of the Olea Project:

 1. We will determine the most effective olive propagation techniques for Oregon by evaluating timing, rooting hormones and propagation mediums for successfully rooting locally-adapted cultivars.

2.  We will evaluate the relative cold hardiness of olive cultivars through a six-year field evaluation to establish which cultivars are the hardiest and produce the highest quality fruit in western Oregon.

3. Transplanting and up-potting practices will be assessed for their ability to achieve rapid orchard establishment.  As part of this study on rapid orchard establishment, we will also be evaluating how plant size and maturity at planting impacts subsequent cold-hardiness. We will collect information on location and time of year of planting, as well as irrigation and dry-farming techniques, to determine how these factors influence cold-hardiness.

4. We will disseminate the information obtained to industry stakeholders, existing and potential growers, project participants, and the general public via written media, online, and in-person communications during and following the duration of the project.

We have concluded the propagation and up-potting portion of the project. The remaining objective of our research is the cold hardiness trial. Cultivars for the cold hardiness trial were planted in July of 2021 and we look forward to collecting data and evaluating the cultivars over a six-year period.

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