1. 11. 2023

Interview: Sandi Chiavalon about the 2023 harvest

What was the year 2023 like for olive growers?

We had a very complicated and difficult, rainy year behind us – which is hard for organic olive growers. Why is that? Because we need to be careful about the olive fly, the moth, and other pests. For example, the Olive moth this year developed the fourth generation in the olive groves for the first time, and for the first time, damages to the olive fruit were manifested as well. However, we managed to fight through in the end. The last thing that affected the harvest was the drought that started at the end of August.

What is the situation with the olive fruit?

The dry September resulted in very dry olive fruit at the beginning of the harvest season and difficult conditions for processing the fruit itself. This was particularly evident for olive growers who did not actively engage in the olive groves, meaning they did not treat olives on time via leaf with various amino acids, seaweed, and other ecological preparations permitted to improve the condition of the fruit.

How did the first month of processing go?

Regarding processing, in the first few weeks, we worked at a reduced capacity because the olive fruit was very dry, which slowed down the machines. On the other hand, the fact is that olive growers have more and more machinery and tools for harvesting each year, which speeds them up, while the capacities of our mill remain at a relatively similar level. However, despite the shortened harvest time, the rain allowed us to still deliver the quality of service we strive for, and part of that is processing the fruit within 24 hours of harvest.

What about the yields? Will there be more or less oil compared to last year?

The yields are very good even though the olives are dry. As they didn’t fill up with water, they weighed less. I estimate that in Istria there will be about 20-30% fewer olives compared to last year, 2022. The end of October sent us rain so the olives also filled up more with water. However, if we talk about the quantities of olive oil, with good yields, young plantations that have come to fruition, and new cooperatives we have contracted for this year, we will produce roughly the same amount of oil as in 2022.

Are you satisfied with the quality of extra virgin olive oil?

The quality is excellent, as you can already check for yourself because our blend “Mlado” was released to the market about ten days ago – it is a blend of extra virgin olive oil made in a limited edition by processing all olive varieties from the first three days of harvest.

How much longer will the olive harvest of 2023 last?

We have finished the harvest in our olive groves, we have still a few more cooperatives who need to finish the harvest in their groves. During this week, the olive harvest for the Chiavalon mill will end.

What comes next? Will the mill continue to operate?

That’s right, we will continue to provide processing services. We will process olives for our friends and fellow olive growers for a few more weeks. During this period, we will also be engaged in blending the varieties into perfect blends for our extra virgin olive oils which will be available for sale in the next few weeks.