University of California Olive Production Manual - Book Review

Source: The Olive Oil Source
April 06, 2005

The Olive Production Manual was first printed in 1994 when there were only a handful of  California olive oil producers.  While originally oriented toward canning olives,  it has been the bible for many getting started in the oil business. Now that there are hundreds of olive oil producers and the industry has matured, the much anticipated second edition has been released.

Editors Steven Sibbett and Louise Ferguson are well known to olive farmers from their presentations at olive industry events. 

Olive Production Manual-2nd Edition

For some, the new edition will not meet expectations. It is evolutionary in nature with many sections nearly identical to the original edition. There are welcome additions about the olive fly, newer harvesting methods, and a rewritten section on olive oil production, but much of the information which the authors and contributors have presented in lectures and presentations over the years has not been included.

The original manual was 147 pages, the new one weighs in at 174 pages.  The history chapter presents updated charts and information about some of the newer varietals being grown although county data is still over 10 years old. 

Propagation information has been expanded with extensive information about rooting cuttings.  In the pruning section there are new sections reflecting the introduction of shakers and vertical rotating comb harvesters, although no mention of the over the row harvesters used by California's biggest grower.

Watering sections are expanded with new methods for determining soil water levels. A new chapter describes the effects of water stress on olive tree performance.

The olive disease and pest sections are pretty much the same with the addition of the pages on the olive fly.

In the Harvesting chapter, the biggest change has been the removal of pages of economic analysis of mechanical harvesting.  It has been replaced with the puzzling sentence, "Cost projections for mechanical harvesting have not been developed".  This despite many economic  presentations over the years from U.C. experts at Olive Day.

A large discussion of the abscission process has been removed in the new edition.  Storage of fresh olives is elaborated in the Processing chapter. 

The biggest and most welcome change for olive oil producers is in the olive oil production section. U.C. extension expert Paul Vossen has completely rewritten the chapter with practical information gleaned from his years here in California and in his travels to Spain and other olive oil producing countries.  The 15 page chapter is a great review of olive oil making from history to marketing. 

Our biggest disappointment is the mass of valuable information about olive oil making that has been presented over the years by U.C. experts that has not been included. That said, the new edition is well worth its modest price of $35.  The new color plates would by themselves justify replacing your old well thumbed manual.

To purchase the Olive Production Manual call 1-800-297-4434 or go to Amazon.com